With technology becoming more and more prevalent in todays society, we as humans have developed newer ways to evolve our communication around these new technologies. Yet with all of this, older problems such as bullying have evolved to now encompass a new playing field that is, Social Media. As social media continues to evolve, the amount of cyberbullying increases and it’s a problem that is getting more and more out of hand daily. Although social media is a great basis to communicate with people around the world, it is now being used to intimidate and harass people with what seems to be no repercussions. Yet although it may seem this way, this is not entirely truthful but before diving in we must first understand what is cyberbullying and how do people become cyberbullies.
According to Stop Bullying, a government website dedicated to preventing bullying, cyberbullying is the act of bullying someone over devices such as “cell phones, computers, and tablets.” while using any messaging service on said devices. Its not just messaging someone that could be considered cyberbullying but also sharing content that can harm or is “mean” also falls under this category. The Department Of Health and Human Services created this website over the many concerns with cyberbullying, some of which being that it is very hard to detect and it can occur almost anywhere online. This can especially affect children in schools who can potentially access this kind of information online without any teacher or parent taking notice. There are measures being put in place to prevent this such the blocking of certain websites to prevent the access of potentially harmful websites, but cyberbullying doesn’t just affect children. Institutions of higher education are also taking steps to investigating the prevalence of cyberbullying among the many students.
The article titled “Cyberbullying in higher education: A literature review” by the authors Lynette K. Watts, Jessyca Wagner, Benito Velasquez, Phyllis I. Behrens studies the prevalence of cyberbullying in colleges and how people may become cyber bullies. According to the authors, one of the main factors of cyber bullying is the ability to remain anonymous making it “even more attractive than traditional bullying”. Without having to be in someone’s face, cyber bullies could falsify their identity and bully someone for a very long time without the worry of someone knowing who they truly are. This could make people want to bully others more without the worry of repercussions since their identity is hidden. Its not just anonymity but also psychological issues that can contribute to people cyberbullying.
In the same article, the authors refer to a study done by Dr Bulent Dilmac, who studied 666 students and their traits and predicted whether the student would be prone to being a cyberbully. Dilmac found that traits such as the ability to understand another person and aggression were predicted as having “engagement in and future engagement in cyberbullying”. While on the contrary, Dilmac predicted people with traits such as endurance to be more exposed to cyberbullying but not actually become one. It was lastly found that bullies lacked sympathy and emotional support, which was why they used social media to attack others; while victims of cyberbullying were found to understand others better and be more empathetic which in turn resulted in them not cyberbullying others. (Dilmac 2009)
Now understanding why people tend to bully others, its also very useful in understanding what happens to the victims and how likely they are to bully others and how parents and society can have an impact. The article titled “Comparing Cyberbullying Perpetration on Social Media between Primary and Secondary School Students.” By authors Shirley S. Ho, Liang Chen and Angelica P.Y. Ng researches how cyberbullying can affect children and adolescents, specifically in Singapore and how parents and normality’s contribute to this. In this article we are introduced to two different parental ideas, Active Mediation and Restrictive Mediation. Active Mediation being the idea that parents help children by understanding that they are using the internet as a way to communicate and teach them how to use the internet in a safe manner. According to Ho, Liang and Ng this method was “found to be effective in equipping children with the skills and knowledge on responding to dangerous situations while on the internet”. While Restrictive Mediation, which is the idea of putting restrictions on the websites children access and the duration they’re allowed on it, was found to have a “negative correlation”.
The second idea presented is normality’s or as referred to in this article, norms. The certain norms introduced in this text are but not limited to, include injunctive norms and descriptive norms with injunctive norms being “the general consensus of for socially acceptable behavior” (Ho, Liang, Ng). While descriptive norms while very similar is the idea of “rules and standards” (Ho, Liang, Ng) that everyone follows but isn’t necessarily a law. It found then according to Ho, Liang and Ng that among 635 primary school students and 789 adolescent students that using the two types of mediation and understanding the normality’s that there was a “negative association with cyberbullying perpetration”, meaning there was sufficient data to say that the students wouldn’t become cyberbullies. This in turn allows us to reach the conclusion that those who were taught how to take caution on the internet can find themselves less likely to be bullied and those who are getting bullied to be less likely to do it to someone else.
In conclusion, cyberbullying among social media is a very serious matter and one that extensive studying and research has allowed us to better understand. Understanding how certain factors in one’s life can contribute to the possibility of becoming a cyberbully, can help us make better decisions and help teach children how to avoid this and how to not become one. While there isn’t exactly any legislation that is helping contribute to the end of cyberbullying, through these two articles we can see that there is a way for us to end it, all it takes is for everyone to stand up to it and stop cyberbullying.
Watts, Lynette K., et al. “Cyberbullying in Higher Education: A Literature Review.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 69, 2017, pp. 268–274., doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.038.
Ho, et al. “Comparing Cyberbullying Perpetration on Social Media between Primary and Secondary School Students.” Computers &Amp; Education, vol. 109, no. C, 2017, pp. 74–84.
“What Is Cyberbullying.” StopBullying.gov, Department of Health and Human Services, www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html.
Walker, C. M. (2014). Cyberbullying redefined: An analysis of intent and repetition. International Journal of Education and Social Science, 1(5), 59e69. Retrieved from https://www.ijessnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/6.pdf.
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