How to Curb Social Media Bullying Menace in the Internet Age
Definition of Social Media Bullying
Social media bullying is the use of electronic technology to embarrass, harass, and threaten or socially excluding others (Nidirect Government Services, 2013). Despite the fact that social media enables the internet users to interact and have fun, there have been reports of bullying and teasing on these platforms.
Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.
Online social networks are platforms for chatting with internet users. They enable the you, the user, to create a profile, leave messages and comments, upload photos, music and videos, play games and so on. The common social networks include Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, friend feed, WhatsApp, flick, Instagram and many more.
In addition to the above, online gaming sites, rating sites, and website forums are also part of the medium for sharing information on the internet.
What is social media bullying?
In what ways can this bullying be curbed?
Ways of Bullying On Social Media Platforms
Social media bullying involves the following:
Posting of abusive messages on your wall
Forwarding embarrassing information or images about you online
Insulting and mocking you
Rating your appearance, intelligence or character
Commenting rudely on your uploaded pictures
Uploading provocative pictures and videos on your profile
Making fun of the others (Family Lives, 2013, p. 6)
Stealing or faking your identity
Sending abusive messages to others
Threatening you physically (Knighton, et al., 2011, p. 6).
Victims and Perpetrators
According to Knighton, et al. (2011), the victims of social media bullying are people of any age, with those at highest risk being at the age 12-14. Notwithstanding, the research also shows that girls are more at risk than boys.
The perpetrators are youths who are non-aggressive. The irony is that technology of the Internet Age (IoT) provides a sense of safety and distance from a victim.
Older people are not an exemption. There is a percentage of older persons involved in bullying too. However, this becomes cyber harassment and cyber stalking – a crime that has legal consequences including jail time.
Effects of Social Media Bullying
The mental health and the well-being of the victim is damaged by any form of social media bullying. The victim is also affected at a social and emotional level through insults and mocking.
Furthermore, uploading of provocative photos through the media builds up an emotional toll on the the victim. Subsequently, it leads to poor performance in school (Family Lives, 2013, p. 1). The friends too who join the band wagon to mimic the victim openly embarrass them.
Bullying victims are 9 times more likely to commit suicide. A keyboard away doesn’t make it okay.
The psychological effect may lead to self-rejection. On top of that, there is a risk of suicidal ideation – due to the social anxiety and stress. This is because one is bullied across multiple platforms or domains on the Internet – and the World Wide Web at large .
A victim of social media bullying:
Loses self-confidence and self-esteem (Australian Federal Police, 2004)
In worst case scenarios, some of those who are bullied online have been reported to make the decision to revenge on the perpetrator.
How to Curb Bullying
You should make the stern decision to either block or delete your online friends who bully you. How about rejecting the friend requests of unknown people who may be potential bullies?
There are online privacy settings that allow the you as a user of some of the social platform online to control who sees and posts on your profiles. This ensures that your posts, comments, photos, and documents are protected from external interference.
In case of a fake online identity, you should report it to the social network customer service as soon as possible. The customer service mandate is to initiate investigations and in due time start a chain of actions that lead to either a shadow ban or complete deletion of the profile.
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
To help the authorities with fair investigations, the ideal scenario would be for you to keep and save any bullying emails or images, Alternatively, take screenshots of any threatening comments. Do not forget to note the time and the date when the message or image was sent to you.
You are encouraged to change your online user identity or password upon the realization of being bullied in any way on any platform on the Internet.
Stop replying to any bullying messages (Nidirect Government Services, 2013, p. 10). Just ignore them.
Nevertheless, report any cyber bullying to your social service provider, or law enforcers, or school, or to your parents, caregivers. and adults (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2012, p. 1).
Social media bullying remains a significant problem worldwide, and to a great extend among the younger generation.
Due to the general popularity of the social media sites, the young people can not keep away. Instead, they are exposed cyberbullying.
The effects of social media bullying can be harmful, painful, and devastating.
Different forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, and homophobia as well as harassment intersect with social media bullying to create disturbing experiences.
If you experience or witness social media bullying of any manner, reach out.
It is the responsibility of each adult to ensure that the young children have a safe place to turn to for help.
In conclusion, educate everyone one about cyber bullying issues. Clear guidelines on what constitutes bullying should be developed with transparent public participation (Family Lives, 2013).
Australian Federal Police, 2004. Cyber-Bullying. AFP, p. 1.
Bullying Statistics – https://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/stats.asp
Family Lives, 2013. Bullying UK. – http://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/what-is-cyberbullying/
Knighton, L., Alisa, S. & Janice, K., 2011. Cyberbulling: Reality Check. Kids Help Phone: Research Update, pp. 6-15.
Larissa Hirsch Cyberbullying (for Parents) – https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html
Nidirect Government Services, 2013. Bullying on Social Networks. Available at – http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/bullying-on-social-networks
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2012. Report Cyberbulling. – http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/how-to-report/
11 Facts About Cyber Bullying – https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying