April 21, 2014
Social media sites, such as Facebook and twitter, are an exciting and innovative way for people to communicate. However, with this new avenue for communication come new options to harass and bully one another, all from the privacy and safety of behind a screen.
Cyber bullying is defined as any kind of bullying or harassment which occurs deliberately and repeatedly through technology. Cyber bullying can have major negative impacts on people, particularly teens, as many people can view, share and contribute to this. It is difficult to remove the harassing information as this can be recorded and saved in different places with quick searches for easy access.
The bully’s attack is often anonymous and depersonalised through the screen and this enables them to hurt someone without the repercussions of immediate challenging retaliation or of getting caught. The victim takes the words they read on board just as much as if they were spoken. The victim also reads the words in their mind which adds an element of personalising the information.
The media is incredibly influential and victims of cyber bullying can experience feelings of guilt, hopelessness, anger, isolation etc. They can also feel threatened and unsafe, depressed and there are rising cases of suicide stemming from cyber bullying. It is important to remember that words are powerful and to think of the impact what you write may be having on others.
When venting frustration on media sites be mindful to use assertive tactics such as ‘I’ statements, as opposed to attacking others. Lastly, misuse of the social media is inevitable and so it is important to develop psychological resilience and to have a repertoire of support and help available to turn to when needed such as http://au.reachout.com/Cyberbullying and kids helpline: 1800 55 1800.
Melissa Van Asten