Cyberstalking has become a major problem for children in America. In fact, roughly
95 % of teens now report having witnessed cyberbullying online. Cyberstalking and cyberbullying may not seem as serious as in-person harassment or assault. However, they can be extremely harmful and can cause victims to feel significant amounts of pain. 

In worst case scenarios, cyberstalking can even lead to self-harm or suicide. Here are the top four reasons why teen cyberstalking is so common. 

#1 – Roughly 95 % of Teens Have Access to Smartphones 

Teens use their smartphones to text each other and connect with each other on apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Many teens take their smartphones everywhere they go. This gives them near perpetual connectedness to the internet and to each other, which creates ample opportunity for cyberstalking. 

#2 – Teens are Trying to Figure Out Their Identities… and This Can Be Messy

Teens are at a unique age in life where they are not quite children but they are not yet adults. During this period, the carefree weightlessness of childhood has begun to fade and the challenges of adulthood start to feel very close. As a result, many teens are trying to figure themselves out and where they fit into the social hierarchy at this point. Nobody wants to be on the bottom of the social hierarchy, and so this can result in teens being mean to each other. This is one theory that has been put forth to explain the high prevalence of cyberstalking and cyberbullying among teens.  

#3 – Teens Do Not Have Fully Developed Prefrontal Cortexes 

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is responsible for thinking about consequences and responding to situations with good judgment. This area of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. Because teens do not have fully developed prefrontal cortexes, they simply do not think as logically as adults do and do not make as rational decisions. 

Many teens do not fully think about the consequences of cyberstalking. They do not consider how it is going to affect their victims in the long-term and they do not put themselves in their victims’ shoes. They just do it because they think it will be funny or because they think it will make them feel more powerful to hurt someone else. 

#4 – Cyberstalking Can Feel Less “Real” Than In-Person Stalking 

Many teens have become somewhat desensitized to crimes that are committed online. This is in partial because they frequently do things like play video games that involve murder, grand theft, and other crimes. Because there are no immediate face-to-face consequences, teens often do not consider their actions to be as serious as they would if they were doing similar things in the “real” world. In fact, teens may say things to each other online or through text that they would never say in real life. The result is that social media platforms can be a real breeding ground for vicious cyberstalking amongst teens. 

Conclusion 

Hopefully, one day, cyberstalking will not be as prevalent as it is today. However, for the time being, cyberstalking is a crime that is extremely common and that is only becoming more common. Because of this, parents should take the necessary steps to try to protect their children from cyberstalking. 

If your child has been the victim of cyberstalking, then it may be very wise to have him or her see a therapist, at least for a few sessions. The therapist can help the child to heal from the harm that was done to him or her. 

Additionally, if you fear your teen isn’t telling you everything and is trying to protect his/her stalker, you may want to consider tracking their cell phone activity. Kidbridge can help you see text messages (both current and deleted), contacts, call activity and more.

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