With school back in session across the US, we asked our Teen Tech writer to offer her perspective on a common issues kids and teens face: cyberbullying.
by Olivia Collins
Sad fact: where there is social media, there is bound to be cyberbullying. Everyone has witnessed it, and maybe even done it. Asking around school, I had a conversation with my English teacher about her thoughts on the issue.
She made the point that most people don’t realize the comments they make are considered cyberbullying. How do you stop bad behavior when people can’t even recognize it?
Part of the problem is the way the Internet encourages people to communicate in general. It’s so quick and anonymous. People tend to have the “How much damage can I really do in 140 characters or less?” mindset.
I think everyone has done it. Most of the cyberbullying I’ve witnessed personally is geared toward celebrities on Twitter and Instagram. My mom even managed to get blocked by Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis after repeatedly commenting “you have man-titties” on all his photos on Instagram.
I think people feel justified in cyberbullying celebrities because they put themselves out there for the public to view. Especially stars of reality shows whose so-called “real” lives are documented and displayed.
Also, cyberbullying is an easy way to release frustration without any real confrontation. If people can hide behind the anonymity of a screen name, they can say whatever they want without putting themselves on the line. It’s way easier to call someone out on something via a comment on their Facebook status than in person.
Be Part of Your Own Defense
I’ve seen cyberbullying in all forms of social media, however, in my opinion, the one that makes the victim most vulnerable is Ask.fm. I’ve already expressed my distaste for this website, and I personally believe people on it are setting themselves up to be cyberbullied (though the platform, now owned by Ask.com is trying to do something about that).
Cyberbullying is terrible, but here’s the thing: At some point, the victim needs to step up and not let themselves be a victim any longer. They can do this by making new accounts that are private or blocking those who are doing the cyberbullying.
Of course, if you find yourself in a situation that has gone beyond the point where these kinds of changes will make a difference, then you need to involve a parent or teacher. Because even by asking for help, you are taking steps to help yourself. And that’s important. Nobody deserves to be picked on, but doing nothing will only make you more of a victim.
What do you think? Do you ever post anything that would constitute cyberbullying? Or have you been on the receiving end? How did you deal with it? We want to know!
IMAGE CREDIT: kid-josh