Can People Cyberbully Themselves? Understanding Digital Self Harm

Understanding Digital Self-Harm

Digital self harm must always be ruled out as a possibility when investigating anonymous cyberbullying.

By now, the behavior of self-harm is well-known.  Self-harm or self-injury occurs when a person purposely harms himself.  But there is also another form of self-harming behavior in which a person might engage: Digital self-harm.

Digital self-harm is behavior in which a person anonymously sends himself/herself instructions to self-harm – through online postings or messages.

What are the reasons a person might threaten or harass himself/herself?

The reasons why a person might send himself/herself harassing or threatening digital messages vary.  But a person might engage in digital self-harm for the following reasons:

  • to be funny/get attention
  • to test their friends, or
  • out of self-hate or low self-esteem

Risk Factors for Digital Self Harm

Certain risk factors are associated with digital self-harm.  For instance, LGBTQ, victims of bullying, drug use, or physical self-harming behavior.  All of these make it more likely a person might engage in digital self-harming.

Given the severe negative effects of cyberbullying investigators must be careful to carefully avoid victim-blaming.  In early stages, however, they should remain open to the possibility that one person may be both – the victim and the cyberbully.

An experienced cyberbullying lawyer can help you look into reports of cyberbullying and help you explore legal options.

Instagram Aims to Combat Cyberbullying on its App

Instagram unrolled new tools aimed at combatting cyberbullying on the heels of recent reports finding it to be the worst online platform for cyberbullying.

The changes to the social media platform include filtering out comments containing abusive keywords and the ability to block out entire groups.

The problem of cyberbullying warrants serious attention—particularly given studies estimating that in the U.S. up to 34% of students between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced cyberbullying, defined as:

Having experienced repeated threats, harassment, mistreatment, or being purposely made fun of, online or through electronic devices.

Girls experience cyberbullying more frequently than boys.  And LGBTQ youth face cyberbullying up to 3 times as often.