Cyber bullying has become a real problem globally. The kids no longer live without the fear of being intimidated by their peers and friends via technological means (Lynch, 326). A parody Facebook or Twitter account crops up in one’s name and photos, and things that one could never say starts getting posted there. Children are ‘slaying’ each other online; just like adults do. People used to be bullied in schools and they still get bullied, just that the means have changed. Traditionally, bullying was physical and intimidation topped the list. The current generation is computer based, internet obsessed, and they are forever busy on their personal computers, smartphones, and other gadgets like tablets. The world could not have been better for them.
The technological growth and globalization has not only impacted the world positively, but the negativity exists too. Just by a click of the button, one can get the required information. Personality characters have been assassinated online. Individuals and specifically kids have been intimidated via email, messaging, on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook (Jose et al., 302). The threats could not have been more. One could sleep a saint and wake up as the contrary opposite of that in the public eye, thanks to cyber bullying. Advancement in technology has impacted bullying in a significantly negative way. This paper looks to establish a few aspects that relate to cyber bullying. Essentially, the discussion is based on the current state of cyber bullying. The reasons why it is so widespread are checked. The prevention measures and the consequences of cyber bullying are addressed. Another critical thing looked at is the economic view of this ever growing vice. Nobody wants to be trending on Twitter for the wrong reasons, nor with the most ‘Shares’ and ‘Likes’ on Facebook on a negative light.
Cyber Bullying versus Traditional Bullying
Cyber bullying is somewhat a permanent mark when everybody across the globe seems to be raising their voice against others, apart from a few people who would sympathize with others in an online slaughter; in many cases those who have gone through a similar case of cyber bullying (Jose et al., 304). It was the first time traditional news was usurped by the Internet. That was a click that reverberated around the world. What it meant to me personally was that overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one, worldwide (Lewinsky, 292). That is the power of the internet; the strength with which it destroys is magical in many aspects. The experience for the children is just insane.
Traditional bullying was physical, cyber bullying affects one psychologically. As much as a person would want to assume nothing happened, it keeps haunting him/her. Children cannot handle cyber bullying for long. It is like a case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The imagination that one’s nemesis is someone he/she has never met or probably will never meet makes it even worse; worst when that person is right next to you but you cannot make up the identity. The scope of cyber bullying makes it dangerous and unforgiving. It ‘cuts’ back and forth, and the target has nowhere to hide.
The nature of cyber bullying makes it easier to engage in than traditional bullying. It offers the bully a platform of anonymity. The pervasiveness of cyber bullying exceeds that of traditional bullying by far. The former offers perpetrators a wide range of platforms such as web sites, instant messaging, e-mail, and cell phones (Anderson, Bresnahan and Musatics, 281). This makes sure that the damaging comments are available for visibility by peers more than frequently. This is essentially the case of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and also the opinion blogs.
In any case where a kid has to be bullied, he or she will more than much of the time opt for traditional bullying. It will last less than cyber bullying. Nobody wants anonymous bullies assassinating his or her character, at least not among your peers. The click of a button should not be enough to take down the self-esteem of a child who is trying to build the same by huge measures. However, cyber bullies can take none of that, and it is what they use against persons at will at any time. They do it for different motives, intimidation, fun, money, revenge, e.t.c.
Why is cyber bullying widespread?
By all measures, cyber bullying has really extended. The statistics are worrying and anyone who cares about cyber bullying should be scared about its phenomenal rise. The more technology is embraced by the people, the higher the rate by which cyber bullying rises. Over the past few years, technological penetration has been enormous. The rise has been incredible and the effects have been by least of measures worrying with regard to the growth of cyber bullying (Rosalie, 29). Between 2012 and 2013, a nonprofit organization in the United Kingdom reported an 87% increase in calls related to cyber bullying. This is staggering and worrying by all means. It shows that with a just a small sample matrix of a technologically developed country, the rise in cyber bullying cases is worrying.
The cyber bullying trend can only be described as ‘scary’. Statistics by Kids Helpline are worrying. The vice has become boundless. It is forcing children as young as ten years to contemplate suicide. Cyber bullying knows no age limits; bullies are creating parody accounts in the names of the victims to intimidate the children, taking cover under the guise of other people in anonymity. All involved have had a hard time. This is as a result of the eased technological access to all people of all ages and walks of life.
Cyber bullying is usually motivated by frustration, anger, vengeance, and sometimes kids do it for entertainment (Besag, 127). Kids have too much tech toys at their disposal today. They will bully their fellows unknowingly trying to make fun, or sometimes knowingly to get a reaction. There some people who are power hungry, more so in school setups. They will bully others to massage their own ego and torment their perceived nemesis (Besag, 127). The scope of cyber bullying differs in scope, solutions and even the motives of the bully. The bottom line is, cyber bullying is so prevalent because of advancement in technology.
Steps that can be taken to curb cyber bullying
The question that arises with regard to cyber bullying is, ‘can anything be done to prevent this vice?’ The answer should be a definite yes. There is a lot that can be done by relevant and concerned persons and institutions to bring the vice under control. People cannot just sit and watch their children keep in this vice. In the past, it has been the common response by schools that since something did not happen within the school premises; it was thus none of the administration’s business to take care of it. To deal with cyber bullying, action must be taken from all angles. There must be some concerted effort put together to frustrate the bullies and keep them away from such acts, as well as warn anyone who is looking forward to being a cyber-bully, against the act.
One may think that banning internet from children may work, but essentially it just cannot work. Taking into account the place computers, the internet and essentially technology has in the society today, eliminating technology just sounds improbable (Kanyinga, Roumeliotis and Xu, 282). But think of this, how about placing limits on the time spent on the computer or any other tech gadget with internet access or instant messaging capabilities? This may be a good step towards reducing the threats and curbing the vice. Everybody should take up the responsibility of standing up against the bullies. On that note, when a bullying incidence occurs, as a people, it is important to stand with the child being victimized. It offers moral support to the kid, and much appreciated discouragement to the bully. A few dissenting voices from the mainstream voice of the bully is a big step towards achieving this target.
Much of the cyber bullying occurs among kids and it becomes a habit as they grow up. With this in mind, adults should spread the knowledge to the children so that they have the awareness of the side effects of cyber bullying. This should be done in a polite way that doesn’t sound like victimizing them by any means. Parents and children should explore the ways to stop cyber bullying together in a harmonized way (Rosalie, 44). In fighting bullying, there is one proven strategy; having districts invest in a school resource officer (SRO). The main duty of the SRO is to patrol halls and have that direct connection with kids. It may be a big call to balance authority and friendship for the SRO, but it can be done. Schools with SRO’s have shown lower bullying rates than their compatriots without. The SRO’s can target bystanders who just watch as events unfold without getting involved, and use them as the weapon to fight cyber bullying (Kanyinga, Roumeliotis and Xu, 282).
Has cyber bullying increased suicide rates/depression?
Some authors argue that consequences of cyber bullying are way much of a parallel thing to those of traditional bullying. However, a good number view this form as more depressing and psychologically tormenting than traditional school bullying. The latter is an argument that I would buy any time. Research is underway trying to link children mental health problems to cyber bullying, and the results are more than confirming the fears of many. There has been a great linkage identified among victims of cyber bullying with psychological issues like suicidal ideation, increased depression, and non-fatal suicidal behavior. Therefore, such cases should be handled seriously (Kanyinga, Roumeliotis and Xu, 2).
Moreover, the 2013 research by a UK nonprofit organization that helps young people to deal with social vices like drug abuse, alcohol consumption among others showed a staggering start. The prevalence rate of depression among cyber bullying victims was 2.5 times higher than that of normal civilians, and the probability of committing suicide increased threefold. Cyber bullying participants, both the bullies and the victims indicate a higher prevalence of suicidal ideations. A research by Hinduja and Patchin on 2000 middle school children reported that victims were two times likely to commit suicide whereas the bullies showed a 1.5 prevalence rate to suicide. The suicidal ideation resulting from online humiliation is taking sharp twists towards worsening, and becoming a lead in the psychological problems that lead to the death of children (Luxton, June and Fairall, 198).
The Economic View of Cyber Bullying
There is a big economic perspective tied to cyber bulling. Some people have taken up cyber bullying as a professional thing. They slay big names at a cost by the nemesis of their targets. They are paid to assassinate the character of an individual and they do it proudly. They have an almost permanent online presence. This violation of others has become raw material, efficiently and ruthlessly mined and packaged and sold at a profit by some individual. They don’t mind whether it is tallied in ‘clicks’, ‘likes’ or just the perverse thrill of exposing others (Lewinsky, 293). The fact remains that a marketplace has cropped up making shame a commodity and public humiliation an industry that gives incredible returns.
Many would ask how money is made, just the ‘clicks’, ‘likes’ and the ‘shares’ are minting cash for some. The more one shames the other, the more the clicks that he or she gets. The clicks translate into more advertising dollars. More advertising dollars creates a demand for shame and the industry grows exponentially (Lewinsky, 294). It is frustrating that someone can take up the problem of another, essentially not a problem but social challenge creation, and use it for financial gain. It beats logic and sense of humanity. The very essence of having friends and living is lost and that is why people will contemplate suicide when others use their names for financial gain in a negative light. But as the world is, it is a ‘man eats man’ society and the bullies who use if for economic sense will not see a big deal in condemnation of the same.
Technology is good; everyone accepts that, but the impact it has had bullying is in a big way negative. The people who should be using technology for gain in terms of positive advancement have found a tool in it to humiliate peers or other personalities. A choreographed rumor against someone spreads like whirlwind with just a click of a button. Research indicates that humiliation is more emotionally sapping than any other form of emotion like anger or happiness. Nobody wants to be humiliated, even the bullies; had they the chance to confess, they would have retracted an action that caused someone too much shame. The anonymity of online bullies makes things difficult for victims. It is easy to get over a bully who harassed you on the playground, rather than keep guessing the identity of a cyber-bully. The guesswork is psychologically tormenting for children.
Digital footprints ones impressed cannot be cleared easily. This is why we find those who suffer the online humiliation getting depressed. In some instances, it estranged teen lovers posting nudes of their ex-partners on revenge porn sites, email stalking, Facebook messaging among other offensive actions by the bullies. It is irrelevant to take a lot of time thinking and brainstorming on who is being offended where. The thing is taking firm actions to deal with cyber bullying even if it means legal action being taken against the bullies. The extent to which cyber bullying has gone requires action and not rhetoric.
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