Science on Saturday Night: Cyberbullying, The Abuse of Social Media

Bullying isn’t something new, but it has certainly changed over the years. One of the reasons you hear about it so much today is because it is happening in more places than ever before. In the past, children were often bullied at school or in their neighbourhood. Today, gadget are in just about every home, as well as most schools, giving people access to technology they’ve never had before. While this is a useful tool to help them grow and learn, it also brings dangers that can lead to bullying and other issues.

What Constitutes Bullying on Social Media? According to a research by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of American teens go online every day. Social media is one of the most used features on the internet by teenagers. Connecting with other people can be a great thing, but it also brings many issues.

Bullying through this platform can include:

  • Posting negative comments on pictures.
  • Posting abusive posts on a user’s wall.
  • Using pictures or videos to make fun of another user.
  • Hacking an account or fraudulently making posts as though another wrote them.
  • Many of the acts of bullying on social media are similar to what they would be in a real-life situation, only in digital form. The impact of the problem is also similar.

Recent statistics show that: 20% of children and young people indicate fear of cyber bullies made them reluctant to go to school, 5% reported self-harm, 3% reported an attempt of suicide as a direct result of cyber bullying, 28% of young people have reported incidents of cyber bullying on Twitter and 26% of young people have reported incidents of cyber bullying on Ask.fm.

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Most cyber bullying victims exhibit clear signs that they have been victimized. These signs can include:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Losing interest in activities they were once passionate about.
  • Dramatic change in sleeping habits, either more or less.
  • Dramatic change in apatite, either more or less, etc.

Why is it easier to bully on social media? When children, and many adults for that matter, aren’t talking to someone face-to-face, they are less likely to feel the implications of what they are really saying. It is too easy to say something you wouldn’t say to someone if they were standing right in front of you.

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The most important thing is knowing how to deal with it. Here are our Ditch the Label expert’s top 9 suggestions:

  1. Never respond : Do not reply to anything that has been said or retaliate by doing the same thing back.
  2. Screenshot : If you can, take a screenshot of anything that you think could be cyberbullying
  3. Block and report : Make sure you block and report the offending users to the appropriate social media platform.
  4. Talk about it : Talking to somebody about bullying not only helps you seek support but it documents evidence and will take a huge weight from your shoulders.
  5. How serious is it? Assess how serious the cyberbullying is. If it is light name calling from somebody that you don’t know, it may just be easier to just report and block that user.
  6. Report it .
  7. Be private.
  8. Talk to them : A mediation can be scary but is often incredibly powerful. It is essentially a face-to-face conversation between you and the person bullying you in a controlled, equal environment.
  9. Sympathise : Always remember that happy and secure people do not bully others. People who bully are going through a difficult time themselves and will often need a lot of help and support.

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