Cyberbullying and Technology Dependence

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The year stands 2018, and the technological advancements that this world has seen are unimaginable. From medical technologies, to cars that quite literally drive themselves, contemporary society, especially in that of America, revolves around these advancements. Despite the fact that technology has brought about myriad positive effects, one negative aspect, in part, is the current addiction to social media available through phones and computers.

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In specific, social media acts as a destructive force to society through cyber bullying, a term created to describe the abuse and verbal assault of people via technology; as society and younger generations grow more addicted to technology and social media, the future of America is at risk of deterring development and losing lives.

Before one can delve into the specifics of one of media’s largest and most impending problems, it is necessary to prove premises that lead to this conclusion. As previously mentioned, cyber bullying has evolved into one of the country’s largest issues due to the fact that contemporary society has grown addicted to technology, phones in specific. This problem may often go overlooked due to the fact that cell phone issues were nonexistent half a decade ago, yet there is a disastrous issue developing with the younger generations. The problem stems from the fact that such young children have such easy access to social media, allowing for them to make statements towards others they do not fully understand the repercussions of yet. Although it may seem hard to understand for older generations, children of today’s day and age quite literally are given cell phones before they even fully develop a conscience.

This is proved through a statistic brought about from an experiment conducted in 2010 that references data found in 2004. Despite the fact that many may try to dispute this just for the sake of an argument, the truth is that technology has grown far more advanced in the last 14 years, and younger children have grown far more connected to this technology then before. This is exemplified in connecting jaw dropping data from 2010, whereas there are more than double the amount of children who have phones in every age group then just six years prior to the data collection: “Twice as many children have cell phones now as in 2004. Most teens — 85% of those aged 14 to 17 — have cell phones. So do 69% of 11-14 year olds and 31% of kids aged 8-10, according to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation” (Davis). As innumerable amounts of children are being given phones at such a young age, children are able to access social medias and make unguided, irresponsible decisions when communicating with others.

Now, opposers of this argument against social media and cyberbullying may ask the question, how does having a cell phone from a young age correlate to cyberbullying? Well, the answer does not lie directly in the fact that children have a phone, for that would be absurd. It would also be an absurd statement to make to say that cell phones for the youth in general are negative and that social media platforms themselves are negative as well. It is not the actual entity that is destructive, in the manner in which this entity can be utilized to bring grief and pain to others. And when does the grief and pain come about the most? When the people behind the screens of these advanced technologies do not understand the relevance and strength of their words due to a lack of social skills and understanding. The problem with this era of technology is not that it allows people to socialize with each other from miles and miles away, but the fact that it deters children, who have cell phones and social medias from a young age, from ever developing the needed social skills to understand the way they should approach people and conversations.

Recent data brought about by a scientific experiment suggests that not only do children spend a prominent amount of the day on their cell phones and social medias, but they actually spend more time on these entities then they do socializing with real people. In other words, these children’s’ idea of communicating, by laws of psychology, is ‘normal’ when referencing a text message, inbox, or twitter DM rather than face to face contact. But the true relevance of the statistic is not just in proving that people spend more time on their phone and medias then with other people, the true relevance lies in the fact that Millennials are far worse than any other group: “More millennials (77%) own smartphones — and spend more time on them (over two hours a day) — than any other age group. ‘In fact, millennials spend so much time on their smartphones that they account for 41% of the total time that Americans spend using smartphones, despite making up just 29% of the population,’ the report concluded” (Hill). Because the use of phones and medias is so relevant in younger generations, communication is had between irresponsible children who don’t know the relevance of their words.

Understandably, some may refute this point by arguing it doesn’t make sense to state that just because kids are young, addicted to their phones, and lose social skills that cyberbullying is a direct problem of media. However, one would answer this retort by stating there is one more key piece to this revolt on media and its’ effect on children through cyberbullying; empathy. By definition, empathy, in colloquial terms, is the ability of a person to feel the emotions of another. To feel compassion for another, due to the fact that you understand, or at least yearn to understand, what that person is feeling as a result of a specific situation. Empathy, throughout life in general, is pivotal and keeps people from saying things and doing things that would be quite destructive to others. For example, mostly all people in their lives has whittled making a comment to someone due to the fact that they have empathy. He or she realizes that this comment would be destructive to their spirit and hurt them, so they refrain from making it. The problem within this is that excessive access to cell phones and social media directly call for a decrease in empathy. Because these children grow to understand communication through the lens of a cell phone, there is no direct and comprehensive way to understand emotion through words.

Instead, the child him or herself decides how they feel this comment or sentence was meant to be constructed. In other words, a person can text another ‘Hey!’, yet one person may read it and think the sender is angry at the while another may read it and think the person is just generally excited. The point is that communication through social medias eliminates a person’s ability to feel the raw emotion of another: “Studies show that empathy is negatively affected by technology use, especially social media use, mostly because technology tends to decrease face-to-face interaction. For instance, one study found that individuals who had conversations when their mobile devices were not present, reported higher levels of empathic concern” (Ogan). As children lack empathy, they are more willing to make hateful comments over the phone or social media platform that cause for many children to react in treacherous ways.

Now that one has adequately described the premises that cause for one to make the claim that modern day media has an immense problem, deterring the youth, called cyberbullying, one can now shift the focus to this ideal itself. To clarify, cyberbullying is a very newly created term, so there are various definitions of it depending on where one looks. However, they all revolve around the same ideals- it is the verbal and mental abuse of another through technological resources and programs via these technological sources. The reason in which cyberbullying is so overlooked in contemporary society directly stems from the fact that up until about 25 years ago, cyberbullying was actually impossible. However, older generations should not confuse its’ new nature for relevance, whereas innumerable amounts of children deal with cyberbullying daily:

“Nearly half of all children have been bullied once online and 1 in 4 have been bullied multiple times online…. According to the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 surf the internet, and youth spend more time on the internet than any single other activity besides sleeping. Kids admit bullying each other online beginning as early as 8 years of age” (“Why Is Cyberbullying…”).

While everyone appreciates media for its’ quickness and relevance, many overlook the drastic effect its’ accessibility is causing for the future generations of America. This is sadly compounded by the fact that statistics show there is a trend emerging in this country that causes children to be addicted to these technologies that bear many outlets of media.

Following this, the lens must be shifted to the question, what does cyberbullying cause? Unfortunately, the answer to this is very heart wrenching. To begin with the lower level effects, cyberbullying causes overwhelming depression that cannot physically be refuted anymore. When this topic was first introduced, opposers argued that this depression stemmed from the child’s mental situation him or herself, not because of what they were seeing on media outlets. However, this theory faded over time, whereas myriad studies revealed that the abuse these children receive over their technological devices causes them to look at themselves differently, doubt themselves, and ultimately fall into a very depressed state of mind: “The same research found that 265 female college students showed that those who were involved with cyberbullying in any way were almost three times more likely to be clinically depressed than those who were not involved in cyberbullying. Both bullies and their victims are more likely to suffer from depression than youth who are not involved in bullying” (“Why Is Cyberbullying…”). What many neglect to realize is that this depression is not only something that plagues the youngest generations, but it also drastically affects the portion of the population that is in the most stressful parts of their lives. In other words, college students and young adults searching for their first few jobs in the workforce are plagued by cyberbullying and depression, whereas they are at such pivotal and judged phases in their lives. Receiving this cyberbullying calls for mental instability, which can ultimately ruin a child or adult’s life.

In providing conclusive evidence for this argument against cyberbullying, which has revealed itself as media’s largest problem, one looks towards the lives of our younger generation. As cyberbullying grows in relevance, the suicide rate grows linearly. While many can overlook depression, the underlying fact is that people cannot overlook the suicide it brings about. According to recent research, those who experience cyberbullying are between two and nine times more likely to take their own life, depending on the level of bullying they are receiving via technology. (“11 Facts About Cyberbullying…”) Although this is an ideal that is hard to quantify, one must look no further than the page of Google to see the myriad amounts of news reports and cases that show up pertaining to children taking their life over cyberbullying. Technology itself is not eh issue, not is the presence of media, but it must be understood that media enables the younger generation to bring people to their demise through cyberbullying consequently making it an issue of media itself. In other words, no one can necessarily blame media outlets for cyberbullying, yet it must be an accepted responsibility of these sources to aim to eradicate this impending, increasing disaster.

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