Cyberbullies: A Social Media Problem
By: Valentina Santiago ’21 and Sarah Metz ’21 (Guest Writers)
It shows up on your Instagram, your Snapchat, and your Twitter. It makes you pale, cringe, and want to hide. The messages are hurtful, embarrassing, and threatening. It’s the plague of cyberspace, and it’s the risk you take with having social media.
Cyberbullying is a series of messages sent online to harass, threaten, and embarrass others. According to BullyingStatistics.org,1 in 3 children have experienced cyberbullying in some way. At times it may be done unintentionally, but this kind of bullying is still hurtful and is not as always as innocent as intended. In fact, DoSomething.org reports that 75% of students have visited a website in order to bash another student.
Although anyone can be a cyberbully, those who cyberbully are often motivated by anger and revenge. DoSometing.org published the fact that 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person. Cyberbullies can’t see the effects that their actions have on others. Since it’s not done face to face, it is done without the repercussion of having to see the effect on the victim, allowing the bully to have less responsibility for their actions.
Cyberbullying can begin as early as elementary school. An anonymous ND student recalls
“I was constantly called names in elementary school. People would comment on my Instagram posts that I was ugly and the things I was saying weren’t true… at first it shut me down and I was like ‘Maybe I shouldn’t post anymore?’”
Although it is near impossible to prevent cyberbullying, some tips to avoid being bullied include only posting what you are comfortable with the world seeing, and don’t send or post messages when you are upset or angry.
If you become victim of cyberbullying, you are not alone. It is suggested that the best way to handle cyberbullying is to save and print the messages before immediately blocking and or deleting the message or email. Never respond to the threats or harassment. Ann McClung, the Dean of Women here at Notre Dame says, “A lot of times ignoring it will make it go away. Because if you don’t give them anything to feed off of then they’ll move on.” In addition, you must tell someone, a friend, a parent, a teacher, or a counselor. Never endure this alone, it isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Report the bully to the social media platform, and if you feel that it is serious, inform school authorities and consider involving law enforcement.
Cyberbullying has become an epidemic without a cure in sight. Everytime you post something, you open yourself up to cyberbullying. So be a responsible digital citizen and post to others as you wish to be posted to.
Are you a cyberbully?
Have you ever done any of the following?
- Sent a mean message.
- Spread Gossip.
- Excluded others from an online group in order to hurt them.
- Pretended to be someone else in order to get them trouble.
- Sent or Posted a photo or information that would embarrass someone.
- Shared someone’s secret online.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is a good time to reevaluate your social media skills and take the time needed to be a responsible digital citizen.
Survey taken from Woodburn Press’s “All About Bullying”