It’s the 21st century now so it’s common to see people with multiple electronic devices and using social media on a daily basis. But are the negatives of social media going to be ignored? With the increasing amount of social media becoming available to the world, the amount of victims to cyber bullying is also rising. It has spread widely among youth, with 42% reporting that they have been victims, according to a 2010 CBS News report.
Cyber bullying can come in many forms, but the most common are direct attacks such as:
- Stealing passwords and posing as the person under their personal account
- Creating websites with insulting or embarrassing content that are available to a larger crowd
- Sending mass emails and/or text messages with embarrassing content
Social media has such a big influence on everyone, especially the younger generation. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Snapchat and Twitter are just a few of the major social media platforms that are available for cyberbullies to use.
The rise of the digital revolution can be overwhelming and around 2/3 of the world’s internet users are active on social media. This means that around 2 billion people all over the world have access to social media and are using it on a regular basis. (Richards, 2016) Social media has such a big audience and a very big influence on everyone, especially today’s youth. Cyberbullying is different to other forms of bullying because it’s hard to escape. People all over the world, at school and at home have access to social media so cyberbullying isn’t something you can simply get rid of just by turning off your phone. Reports show that 1 in 8 Australians experience cyberbullying (Bully zero Australia foundation, 2016). One of the negatives about social media is that anyone can own an account and have access to private information, any information that is shared on your account (name, age, email etc.) can be easily accessed. Because of social media’s huge online audience, if someone was to post something bad about you then it’s available for a lot of people to view or comment on as well. A simple post of a photo on social media can be saved, or sent to others within seconds and almost impossible to get rid of, forever.
Another negative point of social media are fake accounts. Fake accounts are so common now and are used for cyberbullying because people can hide behind their computer screens and don’t have to confront someone face to face. All major social media websites have them, and people can use them to post things in another person’s name, or even use different photos to scam people. A lot of major social media sites have fake accounts and are having a hard time trying to identify and eliminate the problem. Facebook has recently reported that close to 10% of its accounts may be fake (nobullying.com, 2016). A “keyboard warrior” is a common phrase in this century and is used to describe a person that uses a keyboard and social media to express their negative thoughts/opinions towards someone else online (Urban Dictionary, 2006). By creating a fake account, the bully is able to hide behind an anonymous name and in most cases, get away with the harassment without being caught. According to a DoSomething.org survey, 70% of student’s report having witnessed “frequent bullying online” and over 40% have been victims of online bullying themselves. The vast majority (over 80%) of respondents indicated that online bullying is “easier to get away with” than in-person bullying. (Kwan, 2015)
There isn’t anything on social media that stops people from making fake accounts and makes it really difficult to eliminate the problem. Too often people are being scammed, cat fished (luring someone into a relationship using a fake online profile) or harassed by an anonymous person or fake account, and while it may be a small joke for one person, it could have a serious effect on another.
Cyberbullying has the ability to effect someone’s psychological, emotional and physical health. StopBullying.gov reports that youth who are bullied have a higher risk of depression and anxiety. The amount of teenage suicides and diagnoses of depression and anxiety cause by cyber bullying are increasing gradually every year (Bully zero Australia Foundation, 2016). Having a social media account gives every person online, exposure to cyberbullying and some people might not even notice. Just like other forms of bullying, the major cases of cyberbullying can cause people to have possible thoughts of suicide, or committing suicide; for example, the story of a 14 year old girl called Megan Meier. Megan was overweight for her age and throughout her high school life, was bullied over MySpace, another major social media website. Her ex-best friend and her mother made a fake account, pretending to be a boy and became Megan’s online boyfriend. They continued to post things about Megan online and it resulted with Megan hanging herself in the closet. One of the worst things about this story was the involvement of her ex-best friend’s mother. This just shows that cyberbullying isn’t just restricted to adolescents but has the negative influence on adults as well. More information on cyberbullying needs to be shared in schools all over the world so victims have a better knowledge of the dangers of social media, and what they can do to reduce the amount of cyberbullying.
Social media does have a lot of positive impacts with things such as education and communication, but because it has such a big audience, there is constant exposure to cyberbullying every time you log on. The growing amount of cyberbullying cases is confronting, and with that the increasing amount of people with depression and anxiety, teenage suicides and exposure of it on social media. Cyberbullying has become a common term and because of social media, the problem won’t be eliminated anytime soon unless the social media sites find a way to monitor what’s going on and are able to reduce the amount of cyberbullying.