Social media and cyberbullying have an interesting history together. In recent years, social media has begun to dominate the lives of everyone, from young to old. Social media started as a way for people to communicate with their loved ones, near and far.
Photo sharing and video calling became popular. The platform also became popular with businesses as a way to reach out to their audience. Of course, every beautiful and useful thing inevitably has a problem.
Cyberbullying, however, has become one of the biggest issues on social media today.
Regarding social media and cyberbullying, this problem threatens public health, increasing mental health problems and suicide risks. Likewise, some of the things that cyberbullying causes are face-to-face conflicts, anxiety about going to school, and physical fights.
Unfortunately, not everyone is mentally strong. People suffering from low-esteem and insecurity tend to get easily affected by cyberbullying.
“No one must see offensive comments made by someone else about them.”
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying through digital tools such as mobile phones and computers. The purpose of cyberbullying is to intimidate, anger, or embarrass the targeted people.
Cyberbullying can happen via text, apps, social media forums, and gaming platforms. Considering the relationship between social media and cyberbullying, here are some stories of cyberbullying specifically on social media:
• Posting embarrassing images of someone or spreading lies about that person
• Sending hurtful, harassing, or threatening messages, pictures, or videos using messaging apps. Especially, being harassed on Instagram has become quite common and disturbing.
• Impersonating someone else and sending malicious messages to others through fake accounts. The most common stories of cyberbullying are making changes to profile information by hacking an account. Cyberbullies can post sexual or discriminating content on the hacked profile. This adversely affects the hacked owner’s reputation.
Some people intentionally use hurtful words followed by phrases like “I’m kidding” or “Don’t take it personally”. Even jokes can be a form of bullying if taken too far.
Cyberbullying is very common nowadays. It poses a great threat, especially to children and young people.
Here are some statics that shows social media leading to cyberbullying:
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 20.2 % of students reported having been bullied.
- In another National Center for Education Statistics research (2020), it was revealed that about 15% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 experienced cyberbullying within a year.
- In a study conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 56 % of students who identify as LGBTQ have been cyberbullied. However, this rate is only one-third of non-LGBTQ students. Students in the LGBTQ community are more likely to be cyberbullied.
- According to research conducted by the PEW Research Center, approximately 59 % of US teens have cyberbullied other people.
In a questionnaire, cyberbullying was identified as the most important problem for children in the internet environment.
“Verbally attacking someone may hurt a soul.”
Causes of Cyberbullying
Sometimes humiliating sentences, sometimes verbal abuse…
There are many reasons for this issue and some of the stories of cyberbullying are:
• Many bullies feel vengeful for having experienced the same bad events themselves. People who experience the same cyberbullying problem are more prone to such problems. They project this behavior as an expression of their pain and consider it normal and do not consider that it could cause a problem.
• In order not to be excluded. Some kids do bullying in order to feel that they are “together” with the group. Kids want acceptance and not be left out ranked highly for them. As a result, kids bully others even if they feel against it.
• To feel strong. Some people want to feel stronger by dominating and intimidating others. One of the main causes of cyberbullying is the desire to control and power.
• Jealousy. One of the most common causes of social media and cyberbullying, especially among young people, is undoubtedly jealousy. For example, if a person is insecure about their physical appearance, they may become jealous of someone who looks prettier than them and write hateful messages and comments to afflict them as well.
These cases of cyberbullying are prevalent among celebrities and influencers. Criticism and bullying are more prevalent as people believe that they have more advantages than regular individuals.
What are the Impacts of Cyberbullying on Social Media?
Differing opinions and views can lead to personal insults, especially on social media platforms such as Twitter. The stories of cyberbullying are endless. Before people make a post on their social media accounts, they should also consider whether it will be used as a threat later. Yes, it may seem boring to control and think about every step taken, but the posts we make on social media are very important, especially in terms of not giving the opportunity to cyberbullies.
In addition, social media applications must ensure the safety of their users. Therefore, it is also possible to choose who can see profile information from the account privacy settings.
Unfortunately, social media and cyberbullying can have very negative effects. Some of these effects briefly include:
From a Mental Point of View
Many people who do not know how to handle bullying may feel mentally angry, embarrassed, and depressed. Cyberbullied individuals are twice as likely to commit suicide.
Physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, headaches, and stomachaches are also common in people who experience cyberbullying.
A child’s behavior is a good indicator of whether he or she is subject to cyberbullying. For instance, if a child is secretive about social media accounts or the digital tools, she/he uses and is reluctant to share information about her/his online life, there is a possibility of cyberbullying. Also, if a child is socially inactive and does not enjoy spending time with friends, they are likely to be bullied.
Many people may not know whom to consult when bullied and may feel stuck. If there are people around you who suffer from this issue, you should extend a helping hand. Social media leading to cyberbullying can cause a lot of suffering, and sometimes even the smallest touch of help can save someone’s life.
“Everyone should think twice before writing anything.”
What to Do When Faced with Bullying?
People do not want to fight alone in the face of this psychologically challenging and difficult situation to accept. That is why family members and close circles have a great influence on this issue. Centers or experts who provide psychological counseling are also available for vulnerable individuals.
Especially in cases of cyberbullying, the best way is to block the social media accounts of the bullies. There should be no retaliation. Bullies exhibit aggressive behavior and want to disturb other people with these actions. The bullies achieved their intention when the one bullied reacted.
There are different ways that you can do this when faced with bullying. There is evidence that you can gather to prove that someone is bullying you and the evidence can help you prove it.
How to Stop Cyberbullying in Social Media?
Cyberbullying poses a huge threat not only to children and teenagers but also to influencers and celebrities. Recently, lynching culture is also a kind of cyberbullying, especially for popular influencers and celebrities on the internet.
To stop this dilemma, consider the following:
People should not share their personal information such as addresses and phone numbers with strangers on the internet. Social media passwords or any other passwords are sensitive and confidential. Do not share with anyone even close friends.
Be cautious of strangers. As with real life, one should treat online strangers as if they are strangers in real life. Not everyone has good intentions.
Deleting content on the internet doesn’t mean that the content really goes away forever. Social media and cyberbullying are becoming widespread, especially by taking screenshots of some posts. Contents on the internet can be screenshot, downloaded, and then uploaded to a different platform. It never goes away.
Reviews are just one example of the lastingness of content on the internet. Bad reviews are okay if they are critical feedback. Some criticisms go too far and become psychological violence. At this point, a kind of cyberbullying occurs.
Here are some key points about solutions to stop this potentially devastating problem for the people:
Do Not Interact
Think of someone who is constantly trying to annoy you by walking in front of you. If you don’t react, he will probably give up and walk away after a while because he can’t get what he wants. Social media, which leads to many cyberbullying stories, does not create negative effects on people when ignored, just like this disturbing act. The best way to beat something is to pretend it doesn’t exist.
One of the most effective solutions to stop bullying is to block cyberbullies from all social media accounts. Be vigilant and blocked accounts that you are not familiar with.
Regenerate contact information
If blocking doesn’t stop the bullying, another option is to change your contact information and email account. These help stop cyberbullies from reaching out and causing further harm.
Social media leading to cyberbullying is important in terms of gathering evidence. Screenshots of threatening messages or comments are pieces of evidence that you can present to the court if you want to sue the person.
Cyberbullying has worse consequences than one can imagine.
Malicious comments that probably happen to many of us and that we sometimes ignore can cause some sensitive people to experience a psychological crisis.
At this point, Socialays: Social Media Guard, ensures that everyone has a kind of private security that can be accessed for free. This application, which is compatible with Android, aims to protect everyone from social media cyberbullying, from young to old. All that needs to be done is to connect social media accounts to the application after downloading the application.
Socialays: Social Media Guard analyzes and categorizes hate speech and malicious comments after connecting to social media accounts, and then these comments are automatically hidden. The app blocks individuals who are “cyberbullies” on social media. This provides further protection for people who are subject to further cyberbullying.
Laws on Social Media and Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a new concept. There are fewer laws against it. In some countries, there’s no anti-cyberbullying law. Cyberbullying is a serious crime in other countries and imposed harsh penalties. Countries with cyberbullying laws also consider it a serious offense to intentionally send online messages and content that can make someone feel bad. Countries that are concerned with social media and cyberbullying issues will take strict actions including limitations or restrictions on the use of technological devices.