Cyberbullying is generally understood as the use of internet technology, by way of computer or mobile device, to harm or harass others. The term refers specifically to the phenomenon for children 18 years of age or younger, although it is commonly confused and misused when referring to adults. (See cyberstalking and cyberharassment). Cyber bullying can involve a range of negative actions from the posting of rumors or gossip about an individual to outright defamation or the publishing of private materials, embarrassing photographs or videos with the aim of humiliation to the victim.
According to a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) psychology study, face to face in-person bullying boosts the social status and popularity of middle school students and so has evolved to the point that it is seen as “cool” within this age group. It is believed by experts that cyberbullying may be a way for those kids who cannot achieve peer status at school by engaging in physical confronation to bully online instead. However, for older age groups of children the motives for cyberbullying move away from gaining social status to more vigilante purposes, such as carrying out revenge on others as a result of jealousy, competition, broken relationships, etc.
The most dire consequence of cyberbullying is known as bullycide, the term now used for young victims who commit suicide as a direct result. Studies have also revealed that the psychological effects of childhood and adolescent aged bullying can carry life long ramifications to the emotional and mental well-being and behavioral traits of a victim as they become adults.