Cyberbullying: The Achilles Heel of Social Media

Using technology is a part of daily life. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can be fun tools to learn, gain more knowledge about the world, express yourself and keep in touch with friends and family. However, sometimes it seems there is more negative news than positive news about the use of technology, with the media reporting many stories about how technology can be used to hurt other people. You may have heard news reports about the impacts of cyberbullying and you may have even experienced cyberbullying yourself. Cyberbullying can affect any user of social media. However, it is a huge issue mostly affecting teenagers, as they are the most vulnerable. 1 in 10 Australian teenagers are experiencing cyberbullying according to research by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia.  It is much easier and effective to type hateful words than say them face to face. Additionally, parents are having trouble dealing with the issues of cyberbullying experienced by their children mainly because of their lack of knowledge about social media sites. Many people don’t know who to point the finger at. So, why would you want to use social media when you are at risk of cyberbullying?

Social media platforms are used to repeatedly harass, threaten, intimidate, humiliate and victimize another with the intention to cause harm. In the advancements of technology, many social media platforms have been established such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and Ask.fm, giving bullies a range of platforms to abuse and torment victims. Unlike traditional bullying such as; physical or verbal bullying, cyberbullying is more sophisticated in that the aggressor can be anonymous and the bullying has the potential of going viral. Victimization of young people online has received an increasing level of scrutiny, particularly after a series of high-profile suicides of teenagers who were reportedly bullied on various social networks (Pappas, 2015). In 2013 an increased rate of suicides was linked to the social network Ask.fm, where users could ask each other questions anonymously. The deaths of teens who had been subject to abuse on the site prompted Ask.fm (which was acquired by Ask.com in 2014) to launch new safety efforts. Twitter, also, announced plans in April 2015 to eliminate abusive tweets and suspend bullying users.

The impacts of cyberbullying can be underestimated because they are mainly psychological and not physical. However, there are damaging impacts of cyberbullying that affect the lives of victims and the people surrounding them. Dealing with a cyberbully is difficult because they follow you at school, at home and anywhere you can access the internet; there is no escaping them. Cyber bullying: Father crusades to stop bullies after daughter’s suicide following Facebook tirade is a story that demonstrates the fatal effects of cyberbullying. The article highlights the consequences of not being able to escape bullies; ‘Before social media and text messaging, bullying was left at the school gate, but in an age where a mobile phone is like an extension of a person’s anatomy, no-one is ever offline.’ (Ford, 2015). Today, teenagers are glued to their mobile phones, exposing them to hate and ridicule. In the past they did not have this problem because technology was not around at the time. Cyberbullying is relentless and harsh as the bullies get to say what they don’t have the courage to say in person and they can be as mean as possible. One of the effects of bullying is that it can change the victim’s personality. It can cause people who are normally confident and happy to become self-conscious, shy, unsure and isolated. Additionally, victims of bullying may also become sad or depressed. Their confidence might completely disappear, keeping them from trying new things or trusting people. Once a person has been bullied, they may hesitate to participate in situations where he or she might be ridiculed, such as in public speaking or in sports. A bullying victim might even begin to possess previously absent anxious behavior. Cyber bullying can affect people so much that it leads them to commit suicide.  Cyberbullying has impacted society as a whole as well as the individual. The Australian Government introduced ‘Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network’ (ACORN) for victims of online crime to report incidents they have encountered. Serious problems such as cyberbullying, get passed on through to The Australian Federal Police (AFP) for further investigation. Bullying of this nature is taken very seriously by the police and is considered a crime with serious penalties. Increasing social media platforms means constantly updating laws to fit current crimes. It’s a growing industry.

So who is to blame for these individuals taking their own lives? Is it these social media sites that make it easy for bullies to post negative content that can hurt people, or the parents, or even the school? I think it could be a combination between society and parents. There used to be a time when bullying was isolated to school grounds. Once a child left school, they didn’t have to deal with the issue for the rest of the day. With the increased use of technology and social media, bullying now follows children everywhere they go. This, along with other issues, can push some to their breaking point and lead them to take their own life. For parents, keeping up with social media is a challenge. Even if they are cautious about making sure their child does what they’re supposed to do, it is extremely difficult to monitor their behaviour on the internet. Unlike when children are bullied on school grounds, the schools’ authority is limited because of privacy issues. However, schools have a duty of care to all students; usually the first action they take is to talk to the children and then they inform parents. If parents don’t step in and put a stop to it, the victims are pretty much left to deal with the situation on their own. Although parents may not know everything their child does on the internet, they should make every effort to find out. If a child knows their mum or dad is monitoring their internet use, they are less likely to post things that are going to get them in trouble. In the end, it’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure their child is raised to respect others. For older teenagers, it’s harder for parents to monitor their child’s social media accounts. They have more freedom and independence. Many older teenagers find it an invasion of privacy for parents to be scrutinizing their accounts. Often these teenagers purchase their own devices and pay their own usage bills, so if they are responsible enough to be this independent, no one really has the right to be looking over their shoulders.

Recent cyberbullying on social media sites has led to an increasingly shocking number of suicides amongst young people. As a society, it is everyone’s responsibility to take action and help stop cyberbullying. Creating stricter laws and having social media sites join up with organisations to help support anti bullying is a good start. Taking it to another level by utilising social media sites to send out positive messages and create events to encourage anti bullying will help in making sure social media becomes and stays a positive media tool for all to enjoy.

References

Cyberbullying hits 1 in 10 Australian teenagers 2010, Courier mail, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/cyberbullying-hits-1-in-10-australian-teenagers/story-e6frer7o-1225852147677&gt;.

Cyberbullying statistics 2016, Guardchild, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.guardchild.com/cyber-bullying-statistics/&gt;.

Essay: negative impacts of social networking 2016, Online essays, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://onlineessays.com/essays/tech/negatives-social-networking.php&gt;.

11 facts about cyberbullying 2016, Do Something.org, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying&gt;.

Ford, M 2015, Cyber bullying: Father crusades to stop bullies after daughter’s suicide following Facebook tirade, ABC News, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-17/father-crusades-to-stop-cyber-bullies-after-daughter’s-suicide/6703668&gt;.

Is Social media responsible for cyberbullying? 2011, WordPress, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://wtcsintern.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/is-social-media-responsible-for-cyberbullying/&gt;.

Online fraud and scams 2016, Australian federal police, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/crime-types/cybercrime/online-fraud-and-scams&gt;.

Pappas, S 2015, Cyberbullying on social media linked to teen depression, Live Science, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.livescience.com/51294-cyberbullying-social-media-teen-depression.html&gt;.

Should parents or bullies be punished? 2015, No bullying.com, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://nobullying.com/parents-of-bullies/&gt;.

Social Networking 2016, Ask Writer, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.askwriter.com/social-networking-a-three-paragraph-essay-example&gt;.

The Observer view on cyberbullying Observer editorial 2016, The guardian, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/13/observer-view-on-cyberbullying&gt;.

Teens and the effects of social media 2015, Net Essays, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://www.netessays.net/viewpaper/132800.html&gt;.

Understanding bullying 2016, Kids Help Line, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://kidshelpline.com.au/teens/tips/understanding-cyberbullying/&gt;.

Where does cyber bullying fit in the current Australian criminal framework? 2014, Cyber-Bullying in Australia, accessed 15 November 2016, <https://cybercrime2013.wordpress.com/findings-and-research/where-does-cyber-bullying-fit/&gt;.

Worth, J 2016, Argumentative Cyber Bullying Essay Outline: An Introduction and conclusion research paper, Essay Help Desk, accessed 15 November 2016, <http://www.essayhelpdesk.com/argumentative-cyber-bullying-essay-outline-introduction-and-conclusion-research-paper/&gt;.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Cyberbullying: The Achilles Heel of Social Media

  1. Charlotte, I found your blog post on cyberbullying really interesting with well-structured and sophisticated language. You used your sources well and were able to back up your research with good in-text referencing.
    All of your points made a strong case against cyberbullying and showed that it is a serious matter that can affect any user of social media. To me, your title made a strong statement because, out of all the good things that come from social media, the negatives are just too strong to ignore and has the power to outweigh the positives. Because of social media, bullying has grown a lot more than just the school yard bullying from our parent’s generation. The paragraph talking about the app ask.fm, I felt was a really strong argument. Social media are making it so easy to bully people online using an anonymous name which would just encourage the bullies to keep sending mean/threatening comments. Your blog highlights the fact that social media is all around us and with it, comes the exposure to cyberbullying. The power of cyberbullying is really serious and not many people realise the influence it can have on others.
    Your writing made your points clear and it was easy to see your point of view. I agree that everyone should take on the responsibility to help against cyberbullying, including the social media websites themselves.

  2. I find this blog to be very informative on how social media causes cyberbullying amongst mostly teenagers. The title caught my eye because you don’t usually see the words achilles heel in a title but it very much fits the theme of this blog post. The title with the words “achilles heel” links to the authors point that social media can be a weakness and in some cases the cause of teenagers downfall or bullying and I find it well suits this blog. Another aspect of this article I like is how an real life experience was mentioned. It was about how a father was crusading to stop bullies after his daughter’s suicide and I think this shows just how much social media can impact young people’s lives in a large way. I find this blog to have a large amount of research and statistics which helps in proving her point that cyberbullying is a large issue on social media and that social media sites such as Ask.fm and twitter need to improve their safety features. I also liked how the author related back to the past and made the connection that times have changed with this new technology and that cyber bullying now follows kids outside of school. Overall I have found that this article has been very descriptive and informative about how cyber bullying is a large issue and needs stricter laws to prevent it.

  3. @charlottemiller16 This is a very insightful and eye opening post. I had no idea how prevalent cyberbullying was in social media… it’s shocking to say the least. A very strong post built on facts as well as emotion and shocking statistics. I really admire your passion for the subject and it reflects strongly in your post – terrific title by the way, I would definitely agree with the statement. As an avid user of social media myself I have witnessed the epidemic that is cyber bullying, and agree that cyberbullying is social media’s Achilles heel. However it is a useful tool that can be utilised, it also baffles me sometimes why the victim doesn’t simply block / report the problem so they cannot contact or view there account? I’d love to ask your opinion on some related topics. Do you think with the rise of social media bullying has become a lot more vicious? You mentioned how it has now become more psychological harm and damage rather than physical. But now that social media is everywhere (literally, you can pull it out from your pocket) do you think bullying is harder to avoid. Particularly because the one place bullying victims feel safe (home) is no longer safe.

    Really love the content, look forward to seeing more in the future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s