Social media has taken over the world. When you are sitting in a waiting room and look around, most likely you will see the majority of the people in the room on their smartphone using social media. Why are we more interested in people we aren’t even really friends with and who aren’t even in the same room as us?
Many adults comment about kids these days and how they are always on their phone. Yet adults are often just as guilty. Some of us understand the fascination teenagers have with their smartphones. Why do we want to know where friends and acquaintances are every moment of the day, what they are doing and who they are with? Do we really have time for that in our busy lives?
Although adults and the elderly do use social media, young teens are one of the largest users of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. At a time when kids are so naïve, vulnerable and lacking self-confidence, displaying their every move online for friends to see can only fuel the insecure thoughts and the desperation to do anything to get attention. Putting themselves out there visually on a platform for all to comment on must be intimidating yet thrilling because many only desire positive feedback and attention to build up their self-esteem.
When Social Media is Used to Hurt
Let’s look at the negative impacts of social media. The most obvious problem that comes hand in hand with exposing the details of your life, is bullying. It is easy to bully someone online because the bully doesn’t have to deal with a reaction from the victim. When hiding behind the computer screen, the bully can be anonymous or target people they wouldn’t have the confidence to pick on in person.
Let’s define the different kinds of online bullying:
- threatening or aggressive emails, texts or online posts
- embarrassing pictures posted online
- using someone’s identity to send out or post embarrassing or threatening information.*
- repeated and unwanted attention that causes a person to fear for their safety because of messages or pictures shared electronically.*
Types of Online Bullies
There are 3 main types of people who are cyberbullies. 1. The ‘popular’ kids. 2) The kids trying to be ‘cool’ and 3) The misfits who have an appetite for vengeance. Each of these types of cyberbullies have different motivations for bullying.
The popular kids often bully because they like feeling a sense of power and control. The kids trying to be popular often think that if they are mean, the popular kids will notice and like them more. The misfits have probably felt left out before and want to get back at society for their hardships.
Unfortunately, *statistics show that 1 in 5 kids, mainly between the ages of 15 and 20, are cyberbullied or cyberstalked.
Some Forms of Cyberbullying/Cyberstalking**
- Harassment– When the bully threatens the victim or repeatedly sends cruel messages, this is called harassment. Sometimes harassment is taken offline and it continues in the real world.
- Exclusion-Often the bully intentionally leaves the victim ‘out’, doesn’t include him/her in chats or groups
- Outing-If the bully has a photo, video or message that could embarrass the victim, they will often leak this in hopes of hurting them.
- Masquerading-Sometimes bullies create fake accounts so that they can harass the victim anonymously.
- Fraping– Bullies will also steal passwords and log into the victim’s social media account and post inappropriate or embarrassing content.
Ways to Prevent Cyberbullying/Cyberstalking***
If you are a parent, it is important to keep the communication lines open so that you know if your child is being bullied online. From another perspective, you never want your child to be the bully so always monitor their online actions if you have suspicions.
There are a few things kids can do to lower the chance of becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
- Protect your password.
- Never post or share provocative images of yourself.
- Think before you post. What you post is out there for all to see-be confident in what you chose to say or show.
- Use privacy controls appropriately.
- Log out of your accounts when done with them.
- Use social media moderately; be careful you don’t expose too much information about yourself.
Social Media also has many wonderful uses. It connects people to family and friends they wouldn’t otherwise interact with. It works as a great medium for business advertising. When used properly, it can bring people together with similar interests and likes. And it even accelerates relationships because people find it easier to find and communicate with someone they like when hidden behind a computer.
Use Social Media with caution. Use it for good. Use it to build relationships and attain customers. Use it for innocent , fun entertainment.
Stay safe out there.