Is Social Media Making Bullying Easier?

cyber1

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter make communication among peers easier but it also makes cyber bullying and online violence easier because of the anonymity of the sites.

 

1.The other day, I was reading an article about how 16 years old Skylar Neese had been stabbed by her two friends because they didn’t like her anymore. It had later been discovered that the three friends were having a fallout because she tweeted about how she could never trust anyone and how her “friends” didn’t ask her to hang out. After Skylar had gone missing, Sheila Eddy, one of her friends involved in the murder, stayed active on social media and tweeted “Rest easy Skylar, you’ll always be my best friend” and “worst day of my life” after Skylar body had been found. Shoaf and Eddy had planned Skylar’s murder in science class, planning that they would go to the woods to smoke marijuana and then on the count of three they would stab Skylar to death. Eddy confessed to the murder and it was found that a month before she was arrested she tweeted “we really did go on three”.

https://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/shocking-tweets-skylar-neeses-killer-she-stabbed-her-210740166–abc-news-topstories.html

 

2. 12 years old Rebecca jumped off a tower and committed suicide when two girls kept bullying her on Facebook telling her to “drink bleach and die” and how she was very ugly. They had previously been bullying her in school and this had forced Rebecca to drop out of school. Rebecca felt more relieved staying at home and being homeschooled but the bullying continued online and finally forced her to take her own life.

cyber 2

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/10/girls_aged_12_and_14_charged_a.html

 

3. This next story seems to be the most surprising of all where 13 years old Aditi Gupta committed suicide after her mom told her she couldn’t use Facebook anymore. Her mom said that the only things she had told her daughter was that she was too young to use Facebook and was wasting too much time on it. After she came back from work she found her daughter hung in her room.

 

http://metro.co.uk/2014/05/10/facebook-india-teen-aditi-gupta-committed-suicide-over-social-network-ban-4723276/

 

Social media is such a huge part of many people’s lives that it enables others to influence them. Teens take social media sites way more seriously than they should and find bullying behind the screen easier because it is seen by more people and is therefore more humiliating for the victim. Feuds over social media sites cause teens to take actions that they might regret for the rest of their lives. Also, addiction to these social media sites causes teens to make their lives revolve around these sites.

 

 

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17 thoughts on “Is Social Media Making Bullying Easier?

  1. Hi Hafsa. I like your post a lot. It’s an eye-opener for everybody that bullying really exist not only here in the States but all over the world.Those are hair raising stories that makes you want to have an open communication and bond more with your kids especially the pre-adolescent and the adolescent one.Thank you Hafsa.

    • Hi Ron,
      You are right bulling especially cyberbullying exists in all other countires and in those countries the incident like Aditi’s doesnt get publicity like it does over here. When growing up in Pakistan, a brigh kid in our neighborhood decided to take his life and the family later found out he was being bullied by other kids at school. I wish he talked to someone so they could have stopped him from taking such a drastic step of ending his own life.

  2. Hafsa, This is a good post. Bullying on social media can be very traumatic and can experience different types of bullying. Emotional bullying is common. We only get to hear about the ones that get reported.

    • Right on Narayana, emotional bullying is most common in social media and people don’t really talk about. Being adults whether it is older siblings or parents, we need to keep an eye on our younger one’s social activity even if they think that “we are not cool” for invading their privacy.

  3. Good, though very depressing, post. I think that you are right – social media has made bullying easier, as bullies can now “hide” behind their computer screens. I think as parents and health care professionals, we need to make sure we send positive messages to our children and patients and make sure they always feel supportive and loved. It is also important for us to monitor what is going on on-line for our kids, not just assume they will tell us if there is an issue.

    • Catherine,
      I agree that nowadays kids like to keep their issues to themselves, even in my own household when growing up I would share everything with my parents and my other siblings were a little secretive about things. Just last month, my sister graduated from university and one of her “friends” tagged a photo of her on facebook with some hurtful comments. After asking her so many times, she finally decided to share the story with me. I told her unfriend such negative people and don’t even bother commenting or asking for explanation because either someone is mature enough in college not to cyberbully someone or they just are not sensitive towards others.

  4. this is all so frightening. i’m not a parent yet, but i know that i will face these kinds of challenges when raising a child and the rules and boundaries that need to be set regarding electronic devices, access to the internet/social media. both too much and too little can be damaging… how do you figure out what is the “right” way? i’m sure parents will say that you just have to communicate with your child as much as possible, but some of those really sad stories lead me to believe that kids are not as open about things as you might want them to be. i know that i NEVER told my parents some of the bad things i experienced at school or the mean things my friends did to me…

    • Sun,
      I think that the exposure to social media and use of electronic devices by children will increase much more drastically in the coming years. I guess the right way would be to discuss the above mentioned incidents with the children and talk to them about the right way to deal with such issues.

  5. This was a tough post to digest. The stories are appalling, and are a sad reflection of our world. Catherine makes a great point. I think people are actually crueler from behind a computer screen. Somehow, it makes people braver, like you can say whatever you want, and don’t have to see or deal with the person’s reaction.

    • Kirstie,
      I agree since nowadays more of our interaction with others is through social media, we need to learn how to deal with people’s reactions online and how to “Act braver” and ignore such negativity.

  6. Thank you for bringing up this topic Hafsa. What is so shocking to me is how young these kids are. How does social media and what goes on the internet become so much more real than face to face interactions? How did we let it get bigger than family values and real connections? I agree with you that cyber bullying is a major problem with social media and your last point about how this is addictive to teens is an important one that gets missed. For the cases you mentioned above I can’t help but wonder how can we intervene as public health professionals? Why are young people spending so much more time in cyber space? (Yes I said cyber space). What are more healthy activities, even activities online, that can replace (reduce) the negative aspects of social media?

    • I agree with your use of the term “cyberspace” because it is a whole new world out there that is changing everyday. Personally, I didn’t know so much about different social media sites until I read the text books in this course. Since the use of technology and social media apps is so common and schools are using these to teach kids, I think the best way to teach and reach to teens/children is to have a class once a year where a counselor/psychologist can conduct an activity in class or discuss the above mentioned cases and ask the children how this situation could have been dealt in a better manner. I think talking about the negative aspects of social media will open up conservations and we can reach out to kids about the right way to deal with their emotional tensions.

  7. I am not sure that I agree that social media makes bullying easier. I think that it makes bullying more apparent to all of us. Bullying has long been a sad part of life for kids, teens, and even adults. The difference here, to me, is that there is now a digital record of this behavior that adults, caretakers, criminal investigators, and the media can examine. People have always found cruel ways to be mean to each other. I wonder, now, if there is a way to detect bullying and, as public health professionals, intervene when we see behavior that is harmful? How could the fact that this information is publicly available help us to do better bullying interventions?

    • I agree that now everything is out in the open because of the use social media. As public health professionals, we can work with school districts to have an antibullying session twice a year (especially aboutcyberbullying/missuse of snapchatting in teens etc) where we can share tragic incidents related to bullying and discuss the better ways to deal with this kind of situation.

    • I had to pause for a bit to think about how to reply to your last question, Caricia. The knee jerk response is to determine the various reasons why kids bully other kids and educate the bullies about how what they’re bullying someone about is really no different than any other sort of “ism” (speaking of racisms of all sorts). But nearly everyone will agree that educating does not change behavior. Whatever intervention we take towards bullying must focus on why the bullier is doing what he or she is doing, not on whomever is being bullied. There is something happening in the thought process of the bullier that drives his or her behavior. The intervention has to be there.

  8. All of the cases you cited were of young people. I wonder if social media has the same impact on people over the age of …..21. I wonder if adults feel bullied? I know if someone sent me something disturbing I would probably shrug my shoulders and think, “Ah, what do they know?”

  9. Prof. Catalani, agreed completely. Facebook, craigslist or any social media have assisted in solving crimes in many occasions. Since social media makes the bullying visible and as Prof. mentioned, “digitally recorded”, it gives public health scientists to better understand “bullying”. Current data of cyber bullying is disturbing. http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingstatistics.htm. Building a “digital community” to fight bullying and anonymous bully reporting system.

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