Criminology Education Emotional Intelligence Social

Gossips in the digital age: transition to cyberbullying

ciberacoso acoso internet whatsapp

The social networks and internet are arms that maximizan the effects of the gossips and rumours of exponential way. They turn into cybergossip. If it does some years practically the only half by which propagated  was the mouth to mouth now exist global tools that can put on everyone’s lips a rumour in few seconds.

>> Related article: 4 strategies in education for prevent bullying

The greater problem to see  wrapped in these gossips is that in very explained occasions is contrasted and gives  by the way simply by the social validation that supposes to be in mouth of so many people, produces  the called cognitive bias of drag. The social mass drags us to believe something that does not have reason be true and that is affecting directly to the person victim of  gossip to which puts him  a label that surely neither deserve .

As we spoke in east another article on the rumours, the definition of rumour or gossip is: belief that transmits  like some without evidential means that show it.

>> Article related: Rumours: factors and functions.

Cybebullying (cyberharassment), the digital threat.

The problem goes to more when what could remain only in a cibergossip or ciberumor (as more it like to call it) give place to behaviours of bullying to the victim. It is born like this the term cyberharassment, that produces  when they exist threats, insults, humiliations or any type of annoyance of a person against another through digital means. The technological advance that makes society evolve so much can also be a double-edged sword. Partly because our brain adapts to the environment more slowly than the technology is advancing. Technological evolution does not keep pace with the natural biological evolution.

The term ciberacoso is used of general form when it treats  of people adults so much the stalker like the victim, when both are lower of age is known like cyberbullying. Technological evolution does not keep pace with the natural biological evolution.

>> Article related: Facebook can depress you, according to the science.

Of the cybergossip to the cyberbullying.

In a recent study of the University of Córdoba (Spain) a group of researchers analysed the existent relation between the propagation of the cibercotilleos and the ciberacoso finding a direct relation between both after asking to 866 students from among 10 and 13 years of age using for this the questionnaires Cybergossip-Q-Primary and the Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire. 

Between the conclusions of this study is important to mention that one of the most important factors in this relation is that in the process of digital communication does not exist communication no verbal (neither paralanguage). Like this, a comment that does not pretend to hurt can turn into a bad interpretation of the receptor of the message when lacking context, propagating a rumour malicious that derive in cyberharassment.

On the other hand, the fact to be able to store the information facilitates his diffusion in any another moment doing it perdurar in the time, as well as the possibility to edit the content for maximizar his toxic effect. The fault of control on the information that exists in Internet can propiciar his use malintencionado.

Whereas a daily rumour can disappear diminishing the effects on the victim, the digital rumour can even repeat in other occasions by what the suffering of the victim keeps  and his frustration in front of the inability to go out of him increases.

In other occasions, the desinhibición partnerl and the anonymity that can provide the social networks joined to a fault of empathy with the person victim can unchain in this type of behaviours of bullying in which even the stalkers seem to enjoy hurting, as we explain in east another article.

>> Article related: Psychological profile of troll and hater in internet.

How avoid the cyberbullying.

In the first place, keep a communicative style asertivo will help us like preventive measure general accompanied of other measures as they can be:

  • If you are lower, communicates immediately to an adult of confidence (parents, professors, etc.) the situation that are living. Calm, go you to understand and help. And if you are an adult also explain the situation that live.
  • Not answering in front of provocations. >>Article related: 7 psychological technicians not to argue.
  • Control to the one who give him our data of contact.
  • Make researches in internet of our own data (egosurfing). Look for our name, telephone and other data of delicate contact.
  • Have updated the antivirus and cortafuegos of our operating system.
  • Not erasing the proofs of the bullying: text or images with threats, chains of emails, stray calls, etc. Can be useful in case of complaint.
  • Not using avatars or photos of profile that can incite or cause, as well as not going up publicly any type of photos in this sense.
  • Read the instructions for use of the communities.
  • Review the privacy of the social networks. All.
  • Ignore or block to the one who bother you, in case to be grave and reincidente save the messages even without reading them not to fall in the provocation.
  • Review the rules of netiqueta in Internet:
    1. Respect and good education.
    2. Natural behaviour in Internet, as in the real life.
    3. It knows the place of the cyberspace (know if it is a social network, if it is public or no, etc.)
    4. It respects the time of the other. No for being in Internet has infinite time to answer you.
    5. It drafts of correct form your messages. Like this you will avoid bad understood. It uses if necessary emoticones to emphasize.
    6. It respects the privacy of the other. It erases your personal data and the record if you use a public computer, and if you see the ones of another person do not use them.
    7. Mantente Far of discussions on subjects that do not dominate.
    8. Not judging to the other by the failures. In Internet, all are humans equally.

It remembers that this is a general information and that you have to attend to adults of confidence and report the situations. If you know some case of ciberacoso do not doubt in condemning it, the sensitisation and the education in the handle of new technology is thing of all. Think about this the next time you send a picture via Whatsapp to a group.


López-Pradas, Inés C., Romera,Eva M., Houses, José To., Ortega-Ruiz, R. (2017). Cybergossip and cyberbullying during primary school years. Psicología Educational, 23(2), 73-80, ISSN 1135-755X.


Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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