Cyberbullying: When online gaming goes wrong

This is a guest post by Dexter Bishop. Dexter is a mobile programmer from LA who also happens to be a die-hard gamer.

Game controller in hands, against a screenThe digital universe is an environment where four out of five users agree that cyberbullying is easier to experience than face-to-face bullying, even for gamers. The world of virtual gaming can sometimes be a hostile space fervent with bullies and victims, and the effects of online bullying can be just as detrimental as face-to-face. Kids can suffer into adulthood, explains TIME Healthland, and children will suffer from low self-esteem, experience trouble in school and have health problems. TIME further mentions that studies have shown “higher rates of anxiety and panic attacks among victims of bullying,” creating mental health problems for later in life. Help dissuade and curtail bullying among online gamers by being a team player, reporting abuse and avoiding antagonism.

Do Favors

One of the most famous anecdotes attributed to Benjamin Franklin is his mantra to turn an enemy into a friend. Politely asking a political enemy if he could borrow a book, Franklin received a positive response along with the book. Upon returning it, Franklin delivered a note expressing his thanks, and the two men would go on to be lifelong friends. Vertabase suggested the moral of this anecdote can help “build powerful bonds.” Even competitive online gamers can build bonds while enhancing the joy of gaming. Instead of going for the best weapons in a competitive shooter game like Battlefield 4 by Origin, help team members get better armor, weapons and supplies to win the day.

Be a Team

Typically, an online game dissolves into name-calling and threats when a team cannot come together to complete an objective. Aggressive game playing can occur in online arena games (MOBAs) like DOTA 2. Teammates need to work in specific roles like “Carry” (those responsible for victory later on), “Lane” (those responsible for maintaining the integrity of an attacking channel) and “Pusher” (those who need to initiate a strong attack). Acting as part of a team instead of trying to be the single glorious hero helps minimize verbal attacks and a hostile environment when one player refuses to work with others.

Report Abuse

Online video gamers can report aggressive and harmful behavior, whether it is verbal, written or implied. Both Xbox Live and Playstation Plus allow users to report particular player gamer tags for all types of alarming behavior, such as spam and abuse. Gaming victims can even document the case using video and audio recording features. Players who take to MMOs can report player behavior to game managers (GMs). The GMs lock down an account whenever a player breaks the game’s rules.

Don’t Fight Fire With Fire

Nothing will escalate a heated online argument like someone going tit-for-tat on insults and threats. As an argument starts to progress into verbal assault, whether it is directed toward you or another person, resist the urge to retaliate. Diffuse the situation with calm words (or text) to demonstrate that you won’t participate in a shouting match. Try to calm the other player down by explaining your point of view. Refrain from name calling, taunting or mocking how they lost or died because of a lack of skill.

What do you think?

Have you experienced cyberbullying in a gaming environment? If so, how did you deal with it? Are the tips here helpful, new, just plain common sense, or completely off the mark? Why not share your thoughts in the comments and tell us what you think.

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