What Is Online Stalking and How to Stop It?
The advent of the Internet has tremendously changed our usual way of life. Now kids and teens prefer to spend their leisure time in front of the computer, playing online games or posting on social media.
At first glance, it seems that there is no reason for concern. But is this really so? Sounds like it’s time to remove the rose-colored glasses. Technology can be dangerous. Many teenagers all over the world are being stalked online. In some cases, Internet stalking can lead to disastrous consequences. Therefore, this subject should not be neglected under any circumstances.
What Is Stalking?
It would be reasonable to start with the general idea of stalking. It will help you grasp the main point of this social phenomenon. So, stalking is an obsessive spying on a particular person, including his or her actions, whereabouts, and mail cover. Depending on the objective pursued, it can be either legal or illegal.
Stalkers try to keep their identity anonymous. Psychology of stalking is based on intimidation, emotional pressure, and scare tactic. No matter if it’s offline-stalking or cyberstalking, there are always two persons involved: the harasser and the victim.
Online stalking is regarded as the Internet crime. This is the harassment of another individual performed with the use of technology, usually the Internet. It is closely related to cyberbullying. According to stalking statistics, people ranging from age 18 to 24 are most often being stalked. One in four victims reported of some form of online stalking like unsolicited emailing and sending bulk messages on social media.
Key Reasons for Internet Stalking
Each harasser has his own motivation for cyberstalking. It can be seeking a romantic relationship, an unhealthy obsession with the other person, trying to reconcile with a former lover, etc. If the victim is a popular figure, some fans can feel a delusional attachment to them and shower them with tons of emails.
Online stalking can also be a manifestation of revenge or having some radical views towards a particular person. The latter type usually has the most rigid and aggressive style. More often than not, it assumes sending threats and damnations to the victim.
Main Types of Online Stalking
Online stalking has many different forms. We will consider the most common of them. By and large, signs of stalking behavior remain the same for each type. These are spamming, obtaining private details, threatening, too much unwanted online contact, etc.
- Unsolicited e-mails – sending emails of abusive nature. They may contain threats, obscene suggestions, and any other inappropriate content. Pictures of violence or cruelty may be attached.
- Spamming – sending excessive messages on social media, commenting profile pictures, and the posts shared. The harasser can start threatening the victim if she or he refuses to respond.
- Public shaming – revealing the victim’s personal information and posting their intimate photos. Usually, this is due to the fact that the harasser wants to discredit the victim in the eyes of others.
- Infecting the victim’s PC – sending links leading to harmful websites, infecting the victim’s computer with malicious programs (viruses, spyware, and worms). Stealing personal data and using them in bad faith.
- Identity theft – bidding in online auctions, posting comments and chatting with others on behalf of the victim. Creating a negative image of the person that is being stalked. Getting a financial advantage in such a way.
- Spreading rumors – sending anonymous messages to the victim’s circle of contacts containing false information about him or her. Provoking conflicts and quarrels around the victim leading to social isolation.
How To Stop Stalking
There are some efficient methods how you can protect yourself from online stalking.
Firstly, you should always remember the basic rules of online security. Protect all your accounts and devices with passwords, including a cell phone, tablet, PC, e-mail, and credit card. Make sure that your passwords are strong enough.
Secondly, don’t share your personal info. Keep in mind that any private details you share online can be potentially stolen. Don’t forget to log out each time you stop using your device.
Thirdly, have your PC equipped with the up-to-date anti-virus system. Avoid visiting sites that contain harmful or inappropriate content.
Lastly, be cautious. Never open attachments or follow the links received from strangers. It’s the most common mistake many Internet users make.
Keep in mind that online stalking is considered a criminal offense. If you are being stalked and have a strong feeling that you are in danger, don’t hesitate to inform the local police of what is happening to you. It would be the best possible way to cope with the problem.