Opinions

Cyberbullying

The concept of bullying has been around forever and we are very unlikely to see an end to it. The development of technology, with its many advantages, has given rise to further opportunities for online bullying. The fact that we have 24/7 access to technology allows bullying to take place any time. The different digital channels continue to increase and therefore the additional opportunities to hurl abuse. Cyberbullying can be defined as “the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person.”

The distribution of a video recording of a private setting is also a form of cyberbullying. The extent of the damage can be seen by the fact that police have appealed with stern messages to cease all distribution of certain videos. One notices that cyberbullying does not affect only people in their teens but also fully-grown adults.

Other types of bullying on social media take place in a more public context, when someone comments on a photo or status, aiming to ridicule the publisher or the person/people in the photo.  Another example includes creating an identical Facebook profile of someone else, publishing information that a particular person would not normally share.

One particular channel, which was used in recent years is ASKfm. It allowed people to ask anonymous questions to others, to get an answer. The end result was a number of inappropriate questions and insults, where people could not be held accountable for what they were saying. Fortunately, it seems that this channel is no longer used via Facebook.

Since adults and also children would be reluctant to report bullying, it is very difficult to get an accurate picture of how many people are bullied online. So, what are the effects of cyberbullying?

The effects are detrimental to both victims and bullies where both find themselves at greater risk of anxiety, depression, stress-related symptoms and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

What are the signs of cyberbullying?

Sadness following the use of technology

People may transmit feelings of sadness after they have used their phone or computer if they have been abused. They may also act out in anger.

Secretiveness

Bullied people would be less inclined to speak about their social media activity if they are being abused online.

Dipping school performance

Teenagers who are bullied are likely to be less engaged at school and see their grades plummet.

We need to develop more conscious as a society, regarding the negative and lasting effects of cyberbullying. Harsher penalties should be given to perpetrators of cyberbullying who negatively impact the wellbeing of others.

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