Cyberbullying and Social Media

Nowadays, our life is online. Everything we do and feel is posted on one or more Social Media Platforms.

But what does this actually mean? 

Social Media seems to be a safe place to express ourselves, but what if it’s not?

It is important to realize that everything we decide to share will be part of our digital footprint. The Digital Footprint is our mark on everything we ever posted on Social Networks. Behind each publication we decide to do, it’s important to be a serious consideration of all the factors involved. Before posting or sharing a picture think if you would feel comfortable with your family, work colleagues, potential employers or school to see it. Even if we decide to delete a post, this doesn’t mean it’s actually gone. Everything we left behind on Social Media contributes to our image. All the posts can be saved by others and this is something that we are not able to control. So, make sure you think twice before doing it.

A lot of youngsters spend their life online. They post themselves, chat with friends or just use it for entertainment.

What can a wrong conversation do to us?

Not only should posting something make us think twice, but we should be very careful what friends we choose to have online and, especially, with whom we decide to talk. Talking with strangers is not a good idea in real life and the majority of people are avoiding it. Thus, the online environment gives us a fake feeling of security. We believe we are untouchable there.

Having wrong conversations with strangers or even friends can be used against you anytime. This action stays at the base of Cyberbullying. What does it actually mean? It means that someone can blackmail you, gossip about you, spread rumors and so on. The messages and photos you send are PERMANENT

Cyberbullying is actually punished by law in several countries and if this happens to you, you have to report the aggressor. Usually, the victims are afraid to talk and decide to play the bully’s game. But keep in mind, if someone blackmails you, it won’t stop. It will always ask for more. Take your courage and speak up. Your family and friends will be there to support you and help you go through this. The aggressor shouldn’t win this “game”.

Social Media is the perfect space for Cyberbullying. 

Here is a real story:

“Cyber Bullying is a serious topic! I was bullied and began to cut myself… You may want to know why… time to tell I was bullied, stalked, and harassed. Never to my face but online the people who bullied me would make fake pages and put me on them saying I’m how and everything I’m willing ‘to do’ with a guy, but nothing on them was true… They told people to walk up to me and ask me if I was a hoe, lesbian, dyke, slut, pregnant.. etc. I couldn’t take it anymore I was on the verge of suicide and when you’re going through this you want to handle it alone, but truthfully you can’t. So I began to cut. For everything I was going through. I got help. I came clean to a trusted adult and they told my mom everything. My mom got very upset and began to take pills to solve her problems. I got madder and cut even more then I finally said no! STOP I haven’t cut in a month and 5 days… I used to cut every day. So to wrap this up I’m done cutting my mom’s still on pills and I told the police (about the bullying) and guess what. The sites and texts are gone!!! :)”” – 14 year-old girl from MN (source: Cyberbullying Research Center)

We can conclude from this story of a 14 year old girl that online aggression has a big impact on victims. It can lead to self-hurt or even to suicide. The best solution when you are in such a situation? Speak with someone you trust, share your experience even if it’s not the most comfortable thing to do.

So what is Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying is one form of aggression that happened online. In general, Cyberbullying means rumors, creating fake profiles of someone, gossip, harassment, blackmail and the list can continue. 

It’s important to know that there is not just the aggressor and the victim. In cyberbullying cases it’s always an upstander and/or a bystander.

An upstander is the person that witnesses a cyberbullying act and takes an attitude. It tries to help the victim and to speak up. If you ever witness an online aggression case, choose to be an upstander. You don’t even have to get involved yourself. It’s enough to tell someone, to an adult you trust or even to the police. 

A bystander, thus, is the one that witnesses a cyberbullying act and decides to do NOTHING. Why? Because it’s easier to pretend that nothing happened. There are various reasons not to be a bystander. Consider that maybe you or someone you care about would be addressed online and someone has the power to help, but decides not to. Doesn’t sound good, does it? 

Why is Cyberbullying on Social Media one of the most dangerous ways of aggression? 

Because a person can be humiliated in front of thousands of people and between those people will be relatives, teachers, friends…It also leaves a mark on the person’s digital footprint. As mentioned in the first part of this article, everything we post or someone else posts with us it’s permanent. 

Social Media it’s a safe place only as long as we use it properly. Take care of you and your digital footprint! 

Resources: Cyberbullying Research Center

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