Technology and the internet have drastically changed the way people socialize and communicate with each other. Social media offers a lot of benefits such as connecting people. However, this new vehicle for people to communicate has also caused a variety of serious problems, especially amongst adolescents. The term used for electronic harassment and bullying is cyberbullying. Cyber bullying can occur on phones, computers, or tablets through text message, chats, and websites. This new age of bullying is a very serious problem and is leading to increased depression and suicide rates among teens.
According to stopbullying.gov, “Examples of cyber bullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles (stopbullying.gov).” One of the most dangerous aspects of cyberbullying is that it doesn’t happen in person, so it is more difficult for the victim to avoid the behavior. A bully can send texts and posts at any time of the day during any day of the week. In addition, most messages posted on Facebook or Twitter are spread amongst people quickly and are almost impossible to delete. If the victim receives these messages when they are alone, they have no one there to help, which can lead to more extreme actions.
Cyberbullying can have a variety of negative effects on adolescents. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, experience in-person bullying, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, and have more health problems (stopbullying.com). According to cyberbullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, “over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. Over half of the young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs” (bullyingstatistics.org). Another cyber bullying research center found that “mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common types of cyber bullying. Girls are at least twice as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims. Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls. Also, cyber bullying affects all races” (bullyingstatistics.org).
- One of the biggest concerns with cyber bullying is the link between bullying and suicide. For example, “A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying” (bullyingstatistics.org). One warning sign of suicide is depression, which includes ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, trouble sleeping and eating. Another warning sign of suicide is if the teen talks about death or has a sudden interest in death, engages in dangerous activities, substance abuse, self-injury, and if they start saying goodbye to people. Someone who is experience these signs should seek immediate help from a counselor or doctor. By knowing the warning signs of suicide, other people can recognize if a teen needs help (bullyingstatistics.org).
- It is important to understand what to do in this case of cyber bullying. Educators on this matter stress the importance of ignoring the cyberbully because most of the time the bully is just looking to get a reaction out of the victim. If the bullying persists, then the victim is urged to save the evidence and show it to a teacher, parent, or police officer. Victims should try to block the person sending messages and possibly get a new phone number. Teens should be cautious when giving their personal contact information to friends, make sure they are good and trustworthy people. Furthermore, teens should never give any passwords to people, except for parents. Teens must be encouraged to not share anything with others that they would not want to be made public, for example, naked pictures. Parents should monitor teen’s electronic use and observe their children for the warning signs of bullying and suicide. In addition, everyone should be taught the importance if standing up for someone if you see them being bullied or cyber bullied. Bystanders need to be encouraged to tell teachers and parents if they witness bullying.
- Cyber bullying is a serious issue amongst adolescents in our current society. Some teens may not even know they are being cyber bullies or are victims of cyber bullying, so educating teens on the issue is crucial. Likewise, teens may not know what to do when they are being cyber bullied. Parents, teachers, and students need to unite and work to cease cyberbullying.
- What is Cyberbullying, U.S Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html
- Bullying and Suicide:Bullying Statistics, 2013, http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html
- Cyber bullying statistics, 2013, http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html