Cyberbullying: Stop Hiding Behind Your Phone
Cyberbullying has always been an issue, and with the heightened use of technology and social media, cyberbullying has become an even worse issue. Social media creates a barrier that people can hide behind — there is no face to face confrontation you have to deal with. You sit behind a screen and think there are no consequences because you can’t see the face of the person you are typing mean comments to; however, in reality, commenting mean things on social media has terrible consequences. In an article by John Hogan from ABC News, cyberbullying is defined as “using an electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature” (1). This can lead to serious consequences, and in the most serious cases, even lead to death, usually by suicide. According to CyberBullyHotline, “20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it” (1). If this isn’t a terrifying statistic, I don’t know what is.
Many studies have linked cyberbullying on social media to teenage depression and suicide. In an article from Life Science, Stephanie Pappas talks about how “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” (1). Teenagers are very impressionable, and many things on social media can act as triggers. Pappas also talks about how the popular app ask.fm (an app where you can leave anonymous comments about people, they can be positive or negative, but usually negative) created a great deal of risk for suicide in 2013 (1). After that, ask.fm along with Twitter started making efforts to delete mean and unwanted comments (1).
Many social media sites have recognized that cyberbullying occurs and is a huge issue. In an article from ABC by Nicole Pelletiere, Instagram has released a new tool to help combat bullying over their site. The aim of this new tool is to “to [reduce] abusive comments on the app” (1). Instagram claims that “kindness has been in the DNA of Instagram from our earliest days, and as our community grows — now to 800 million — we are working to make Instagram the kindest and most inclusive online community” (1). Due to Instagram being one of the biggest social media apps used by almost all age groups, and because it is so popular, it is very influential. Mean comments circulate constantly and it is possible for anyone to see it, and ultimately be affected by it.
However, there are still people out there who think cyberbullying is “fake” and just a ploy to bring attention to oneself and overall not a big problem. In a letter written to the Cyberbullying Research Center, the author of the letter talks about how even though cyberbullying should still be stopped, it will never have an end. He also talks about how it’s “the internet” and there’s absolutely no way to stop cyberbullying from occurring so people just need to get over it (1). Other critics of cyberbullying believe that even though cyberbullying is still a serious problem, it is not life threatening. In an article Cyberbullying Is a Serious Problem, but Is It an Epidemic?, from the HuffPost, Larry Magid talks about “cyberbullying is not an epidemic and it’s not killing our children.” (1). However, he is extremely wrong, cyberbullying is killing kids left and right and especially due to social media.
Often times, certain groups of people are targeted when it comes to cyberbullying. One group that has been a big target on social media is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. In an article from The Mercury News by Larry Magid, Magid says “[cyberbullying is] especially pernicious for young people who identify or are coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ)” (1). In 2012, Warren Blumenfeld and R.M. Cooper conducted a study to see how many kids that identify within the LGBTQ community were cyberbullied; the result, “52 percent of LGBTQ youth between the ages of 11 and 22 reported having been the targets of cyberbullying several times, while 54 percent had been bullied about their sexual identity and 37 percent had been bullied about their gender identity or expression in the past 30 days” (1). Since 2012, the world was become a lot more accepting of the LGBTQ community, however, bullying will still continue because of the lack of acceptance some people still face.
In today’s society, everything revolves around the internet. Almost every kid has a phone and at least one form of social media. We comment, like and share posts, and even though the hopes of the social media sites are to spread love and positivity, hate will always be present in some form. Bottom line, people are mean, and they comment mean things. It is time for cyberbullying to stop.