By Justin Lalputan, Staff Writer

There have been many fabulous technological advancements in the last two decades. We have iPods, personal computers and have made fantastic use of the Internet. However, along with these improvements, there are a few inevitable downsides. One such is the practice known as cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is when one person bullies another over the Internet. This can be done through any format: instant messaging, message boards or even online video games. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of cyberbullying occurs between students in middle and high school.

This practice has been the cause of numerous incidents in which students have been traumatized or have even caused physical harm to themselves.

“Cyberbullies” post mean, derogatory comments about other individuals or spread malicious rumors with the intention of making others feel bad.

Cyberbullying gets more serious when people start posting pictures and videos of others on the Internet. I feel that when this happens, the offense can no longer be considered simple cyberbullying — it becomes harassment, which is a different matter altogether.

Personally, I cannot believe that this is a problem in today’s society. I can understand why, if it is intense enough, regular bullying can make students feel bad and possibly want to hurt themselves. But cyberbullying is completely different in my mind.

When someone is being physically pushed around, there is almost no way for them to get the tormenter to stop until he feels satisfied.

However, on the Internet, people are in greater control of what they view and encounter. If someone is making statements online that cause you to feel uncomfortable, then what is so hard about navigating to a different web page?

If you are involved in a chat with another person, and they begin to make comments that you don’t like, why not just quit the chat? I honestly don’t understand why someone would hurt themselves over such a simple matter.

I think that, particularly with respect to younger students, a large portion of cyberbullying prevention depends on parents. Parents don’t necessarily need to monitor every last thing that their kids do on the Internet, but they should have a rough idea of what is going on. If they know what’s happening, then maybe they can put a stop to an incident before it gets out of hand.

Cyberbullying is completely different than physical bullying. In real life, a greater probability of physical violence against the victim exists. On the Internet, there is a zero percent chance of someone getting physically injured, unless they do it to themselves. And, as stated before, all it takes is the click of a mouse to make the harassment stop.

A while back, my sister (who was in 8th grade at the time) told me that she actually got to miss one of her classes to attend a mandatory lecture on cyberbullying. I find that to be somewhat ridiculous. To me, cyberbullying is nothing short of a joke and I can’t believe that schools would actually waste time and money to bring someone in for an entire lecture.

I’m only 18, but this cyberbullying trend is making me feel old. I remember a time when bullying was solely verbal and physical.

And, yes, I’ve had people tell me some pretty ridiculous stuff over the Internet. But most of the time it made me feel like laughing, not hurting myself. Cyberbullying is not a serious problem plaguing children. It has simply been overhyped to the point where people actually think it’s serious.

Two things need to happen: kids need to toughen up and parents need to get involved.

If that happens, then I’m sure this whole cyberbullying “epidemic” will go away. As I always say, sticks and stones may break my bones, but an instant message will never hurt me.