Ever since the rise of the internet’s popularity, people across the globe have been connected of a level that is getting incredible close to real life Every day. With this great source of information, entertainment and companionship, however, comes a group of malicious people who only want to make other feel miserable. While bullying has always been an issue in schools and other places where different people are in constant contact, cyber bullying has added another layer to the bully’s arsenal: anonymity.
Even though websites usually require users to create an online alias for their service, it is quite common for people to use fake names, or even just random words and numbers strung together to give themselves the ability to hurt the people they wish. As technology becomes more and more integrated with our daily lives, it can be hard to just “switch off”. Anonymity is not an inherently bad thing, as it allows people to express opinions without having to worry about who might disagree. However when the wrong people get a hold of this tool, it can lead to people saying hurtful words without people knowing who said it, as well as letting a mass of other “masked” users like and share all the hateful words and videos.
Many anti-bullying organizations have taken steps to try to end cyberbullying using PSAs, articles, and even movies such as the bluntly titled “Cyberbully” starring Emily Osment. Despite all the efforts made by so many different people, cyber bullying is only becoming more prevalent, even finding its way to the world of online inside jokes known as memes. Memes often feature a person, animal, or thing that carries the weight of the joke. While many are relatively harmless, many hardly seem to be funny at all. One meme that was spread in the 2014 was simply to reply to people’s posts with “kys”, meaning “kill yourself”.
According to Medical News Today, “between 5% to 20% of children are victims of physical, verbal, or exclusion-based bullying” and “cyberbullying causes more suicidal thoughts in kids than traditional bullying.” With suicide being one of the leading causes of death in adolescents across the globe, this means that a large portion of the world’s kids—its future—are have thoughts of ending their lives due to what their peers think of them or want them to think of themselves.
One question that is constantly proposed is “How should victims deal with cyberbullies?” Many anti-bully websites, organizations, and counselors often have advice readily available for anyone who needs. One method that they tell parents is to watch over every aspect of their son’s or daughter’s online interactions. While this seems like the correct thing to do in theory, some psychologists believe this lack of privacy could prove to have adverse effects to the intended effect. The constant watching over may lead to the teens becoming more rebellious purely to spite their parents. The recommended approach by these psychologists is to educate the kids directly, to hopefully stop bullies in and prepare victims before they earn this unfortunate title.
This method is popular because some victims may not have access to an adult who cares, and with this education, they can deal with the issue themselves. One easy and effective solution to dealing with virtual harassers is to simply block and report the malicious user. Most if not all sites have terms of service which will blatantly state that bullying and harassment is a ban-able offense.