Impact of Cyberbullying
Bullying has been a swiftly growing epidemic in American schools. More and more children are being harassed during lunch, recess, in the halls, and even in class. There was a time when children could go home and find relief from this bullying. Unfortunately, with the introduction of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, sometimes children cannot escape bullying; the harassment is following them home. It is called cyberbullying. Many believe that cyberbullying is not a big deal. They think the child can avoid the sites, find new sites, or simply shut off their computer all together to avoid the bullying. They fail to realize that once the harassment has been seen by the victim, or by other bullies, the damage is already done.
Avoiding sites that offer harassment is a popular argument among individuals who do not believe cyberbullying is not as bad as it sounds. They believe that if the child does not open their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, they cannot be a part of the problem. They will not see the rude comments being made about them and, therefore, can never technically be bullied. This technique, according to, “ Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age,” proves nearly impossible for adolescents and teens to fulfill; the need to understand what they are doing wrong or why they do not fit in outweighs their desire to avoid the bullied stimulus in 90% of cases . Furthermore, “ The effects of Ostracism on Children’s Cognitive Processes,” states if children up to the age of eighteen feel as if they are been excluded from the group, it will only drive their determination to re-enter the group in 50% of cases. It will effectively cause them to seek out social media portals and, consequently, their cyberbullies . Cyberbullying can cause the individual to become obsessive and paranoid about what others are saying. If it is experienced too often or to a degree, the individual cannot handle, they may experience a psychological collapse.
If the child cannot avoid the sites they are being bullied on, why not find new ones to network? Many argue the child can find substitute sites and, subsequently, other friends who may be less inclined to cyberbully them. This argument is one of the more rational from groups who believe cyberbullying is not a big deal. However, it still does not solve anything. According to, “ Investigating Cyberbullying: Emerging Research and E-Safety Strategies within Families and Communities,” there are two problems with this theory. Firstly, cyberbullying strategies are evolving just as rapidly as social networks . Cyberbullies are often some of the first groups to know when a new social network is about to emerge. In many cases, they have already devised a way to use it against their victim. This desperation to be on top of each emerging social network and to use it to the individual’s sick advantage is hypothesized to be because the bully wants to use it as a popularity tool . The second problem with victims finding other forms of social media in order to avoid the bullies, as well as the cyberbullying, is that it forces them to take a subservient, victim stance . The victim must leave their preferred form of social media. Fundamentally, they are fleeing for their psychological wellbeing and it is due largely in part to arguments that suggest the victim should do something to correct their behavior. The cyberbullies will continue bullying on each emerging social network, and society will never make them answer for their behavior, further reinforcing the concept that the victim is the one doing something wrong. This attitude will only continue the idea that the victim must find out what they are doing wrong, encouraging them to seek out the bully’s comments and reconstruct their future actions. Therefore, even if the victim attempts to avoid cyberbullying by switching social media networks all together, the message society sends forces the victim to change who they are. The individual may also take on a victim mentality the rest of their lives, which can lead to poor relationships, friendships, addiction problems, and poor employment
Finally, and perhaps the largest reason cyberbullying is something that can no longer be overlooked, is that it does not matter if the victim avoids social networks or switches networks. Peter K. Smith’s, “ Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Associated with Cyberbullying,” is clear in stating that once the cyberbullying comments are seen by the victim the damage is already done. Seeing the comments and understanding peers think less of one’s self automatically starts a downward spiral that is difficult to correct. Something else individuals who argue for cyberbullying do not understand is that the victim does not have to see the comments posted on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking website to be ostracized from their peers . In many cases, if the individual is ostracized from peers for seemingly no reason, it can be more difficult than if the individual understands they are being excluded because peers are making rude comments on the internet about their hair or glasses . Adolescents who were aware of why they were being excluded showed better coping skills than peers who felt they were being excluded for no reason because they did not know how they were being cyberbullied . Due to this discovery, avoiding the sites or switching networks are not simple answers as arguers like to hope. Being ostracized is the real crippling agent in this scenario; knowing why a student is being excluded can at least help them cope.
In sum, though many like to argue that cyberbullying is not a big deal, it is. Children who are cyberbullied become obsessive, even paranoid, about what others are saying about them. In many cases, they are forced to take a victim stance that can influence their future actions and help them adopt a victim stance the rest of their lives. Running from cyberbullying is not the answer. While the comments are often cruel and uncalled for, knowing what is being said is often a child’s only way of coping with what is happening.
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Burgess, Jill and Catherine McLoughlin. ” Investigating cyberbullying: Emerging research and e-safety strategies within families and communities .” Communities, Children, and Families (2012): 3-12. Article.
Hawes, David J., et al. ” The effects of peer ostracism on children’s cognitive processes.” European Journal of Developmental Psychology (2012): 599-613. Article.
Kowalski, Robin M., Sue Limber and Patricia W. Agatston. Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Digital Age. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Book.
Smith, Peter K. ” Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Associated with Cyberbullying.” Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (2012): 69-75. Article.
Utz, Sonja, Martin Tanis and Ivar Vermeulen. ” It Is All About Being Popular: The Effects of Need for Popularity on Social Network Site Use .” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (2012): 37-42. Document.