Are you a Bully?
Bullying seems like a simple concept to grasp. In simple terms when first researched the “definition” is when someone inflicts harm and or abuse in order to dominate or intimidate others. However, there are many forms of bullying. For example, physical bullying, verbal bullying, cyberbullying, and etc. You may be surprised to learn that you probably have been a bully yourself without even realizing it. We learn from our parents and in school that bullying is bad so it’s interesting to see bullying, in its many different forms, still be very prevalent in everyday life. The term bully has been around for years. Today I want to sway away from the traditional world of bullying (ex. Playground bullying) and focus on the cyber aspect of bullying. Technology as we all know has helped make many advancements in human society. In the 21st century we live in it is easier than ever to gain access to the internet. With just a click of a button you can get onto Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, and or Instagram.
I remember the very first time I got my phone. It was in 6th grade when I was a mere twelve year old girl. It was originally for the intent that I could contact my parents after school to make sure I was safe. It’s ironic how access to technology can do the opposite though. Like any other teenage girl in America, what I really wanted to do was download Snapchat and Instagram in order make friends, especially since middle school was so intimidating. I’m not the only one though. According to the Common Sense Media census report, which was referenced in a CNN post by Jacqueline Howard, “In the United States, the average age kids are signing up for their own social media accounts is 12.6.” There has been controversy over the years about when “kids” should be permitted to have their own social media account and freely roam the internet. Also in the CNN article, it states “The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, imposes certain requirements on operators of websites and online services – including social media sites – so that personal information from children under 13 is not collected, disclosed or used without parental consent.” Although there is an act intended to protect children, it would not be realistic to say that every parent monitors their child’s every move on the internet. A final note by Vivian Friedman in the CNN post says, “children think more concretely before adolescence, some may not be able to fully “analyze the truth or validity of abstract issues” related to social media. To understand the full extent of cyberbullying we need to analyze who the victims and culprits are. Overall, the moral of that story is that parents need to have more conversations about social media with their kids. The lack of awareness children have about the internet is part of the problem. Consequently, the issue may be originating at home.
It may be easy to just classify cyberbullying as simple as leaving a mean comment on someone’s post. However, we live in a world where kids as young as 12 years old have access to technology. So, we need to put into perspective how cyberbullying affects us all. Let’s begin with where the problem starts. Cyberbullying is a current issue as the number of people using the internet increases. Bullying is described as intentional harm. On the other hand, on the internet it is hard to interpret what people are really trying to say. According to Arlin Cuncic, in her article, The Psychology of Cyberbullying, “Bullying can still take place without intention if a victim perceives actions to be harmful.” Therefore, cyberbullying can really be about how the receiver /“victim” views and feels about the situation. Maybe your cyberbullying is a result of someone else’s cyberbullying. Maybe you are just defending yourself. I’m sure you’ve left a comment stating your opinion which someone else found offensive. Just stating your opinion online doesn’t seem like it should constitute as bullying though. Opinions will never be unanimous or else they would not be opinions.
While sharing those opinions it’s important to pay attention to how your actions may affect others. I am sure some of you did something you should not have when you thought no one else was looking. However, just remember what you post and choose to reveal on the internet is permanent. According to Richard Donegan in his paper, Bullying and Cyberbullying, “anonymity makes it easier for the offender to strike blows against a victim without having to see the victim’s physical response.” Cyberbullies have the ability to hide behind a screen while they do real harm to real people in the real world. According to Cuncin, whose work was fact checked, some effects of cyberbullying “include increased feelings of depression mood swings, and anxiety, insomnia, suicidal ideation or suicide attempt, and or feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth.” All in all, be careful what you do on the internet as it will have a lasting effect.
Cyberbullying isn’t new news though. In fact, movies like Cyberbully, have been made to bring attention to this rising problem. The real interesting part is that cyberbullying is still a problem even though there are laws and acts to prevent it from happening. For example, several states have developed legal actions against cyberbullying. Schools have also taken action to tackle the bullying problem amongst adolescents. I recall that in my own high school, if you were found guilty of harassment you would face suspension. However, just look at all the people in prison now who have broken the rules. Considering that people can be any one they want on the internet it is no wonder they are not scared. If they can not get caught they can’t face the consequences.
Bullying and cyberbullying: History … – Elon university. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/2017/06/04DoneganEJSpring12.pdf
Cuncic, A. (2022, February 19). The Psychology of Cyberbullying. Verywell Mind. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-psychology-of-cyberbullying-5086615
Howard, J. (2018, June 22). What’s the average age when kids get a social media account? CNN. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/22/health/social-media-for-kids-parent-curve/index.html