Technology is fascinating. It brings new and exciting opportunities to network with a plethora of individuals, conduct business on a global scale, and solve debates about the name of that one guy who played in that one movie with a quick Google search. However, technology also has perlocutionary effects of serving as a medium through which individuals can bully each other on a grand scale.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying is the use of interactive electronic technology to torment, threaten, or otherwise harass another individual. In my parent’s day, bullying typically happened on school grounds, and perpetrators of bullying typically had the physicality to do so, or were in a position of social power. Cyber bullying is a completely different ball game. Cyber bullying equalizes opportunities for victimization. With the push of a few buttons, anyone can become the victim of cyber bullying.
Utilizing mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or MySpace, a single act of aggression can be seen publicly by a plethora of individuals. Worse yet, these tormenting posts can be ‘liked’ or commented on to perpetuate the harassment. Whereas bullying on school grounds ends at 3pm, cyber bullying continues to operate 24/7, making it almost impossible to escape.
From texts, to emails, to social media harassment, cyber bullying has the potential to bombard victims with degrading/threatening messages, lies about their character, or even disturbing images non-stop. The ability to spread dangerous and degrading information about people (true or not) has increased in speed and in number - making victims feel isolated and often depressed (with an increased likelihood of committing suicide).
What Can You Do?
If you are a parent or guardian, teach your children about internet safety and the appropriate behavior to exhibit on social media sites. Moreover, educate your children on what bullying is, what it looks like, and that bullying can exist in electronic forms.
Make others aware of cyber bullying. Recognizing cyber bullying as an issue and knowing cyber bullying when you see it is an important step in preventing cyber bullying/stopping the harassment.
Report cyber bullying if you see it. It might not seem like the ‘cool’ thing to do (to tell on someone), but ultimately you’re dramatically improving the quality of life of another individual by reporting harassing behavior when you see it.
Education, awareness, and reporting, are key to preventing and stopping cyber bullying from happening.
How Do I Learn More?
Here’s a link to some quick statistical facts about cyber bullying: http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying
Here’s a link to some more information about bullying and cyber bullying: http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/