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The Effects of Cyber-Bullying to the Mental Health

Cyber bullying has effects on human's health / Photo by: Burdun Iliya via Shutterstock.

 

As humanity enters the world of a more advanced civilization where technology is at its prime, there have been many innovations discovered which alleviates the way how people communicate and talk with each other, as well as experience changes that spurred when social media platforms became prevalent. People are now relying on social media to gather information and news. They also use social media to get in touch with other people who are close to them, but social media also connects strangers who have different opinions with the same idea. Sometimes, because of these differences, netizens or people who are on the internet could have an online argument. Likewise, because of the diverse world that exists on the internet, people can’t understand other people’s preferences and way of thinking which makes them have their own judgment and unfair bias with the other person.

 

A woman experiencing cyber bullying / Photo by: SpeedKingz via Shutterstock

 

Unfortunately, even though healthy arguments could exist where an intellectual conversation between different people happens, there are still people in the social media who use bullying and defamation to another person in order to argue with them. Most of these cyberbullies attack the personal characteristic of the person just to win over the argument since they know that every person has a weakness when their personal life is being attacked. In a website called PublicSafety.ca, they stated that cyberbullying is a serious matter. It could really hurt the people who it targets and it could also affect every aspect of their lives. Just like any forms of bullying, no one deserves it. Cyberbullying happens electronically, it can haunt the target even though they lock themselves away from the people who attacked them, and the worse thing is, cyberbullies are like flies that is hard to get away from since they could swarm the target’s social media account and fill it with a lot of hate comments.

Severe and long-term effects can leave both victims and bullies at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but publicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide. Experts say that kids who are bullied and bullies themselves are also facing a higher risk of having suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completed suicides.

 


 

How serious is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is defined by Science Daily as the use of electronic devices and communication such as e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, and mobile phones to bully or harass an individual or group using personal attacks. Cyberbullying could exist in different channels such as blogging websites and social media since they are both public and widely spread. Cyberbullies could directly call out their victim by tagging them on the comment section and by publicly posting or privately sending them harassing messages. There are also instances where the bullies are creating a fake account using the victim’s name to tease the victim or also called as ‘catfishing’. Meanwhile, cyberbullying could also happen by accident because of the impersonal nature of the text messages, IMs, and emails which makes it hard for the target to detect the sender’s tone when they create the message. Sometimes, offenders take their comments as a joke and they could not understand that their jokes can really hurt the person that they are referring to.

Furthermore, in a report by The Guardian, they stated on their online article that 1 in 5 children have experienced cyberbullying while 1 in 10 adults have experienced image-based abuse. “The average age of victims is 14; girls are bullied online more than boys, and almost all of the online abuser is peer to peer and has a nexus to social conflict within the school gates,” says Julie Inman Grant, Australian e-safety commissioner. Grant will conduct a speech which will reveal new statistics about child sexual abuse including the disturbing trend where children are being coerced by offenders to create child “pornography” themselves rather than through direct contact with an offender.

 

 

Reach out and be nice

Cyberbullying could be anonymous, which can sometimes make it even worse. It also has a wider audience and can spread quickly like a wildfire. The targets of cyberbullying often feel like they can’t get away from the bullying. If someone is bullying personally, they could leave or stay away from their offenders, but cyberbullying could follow the victim even in the safety of their homes. Pacer Center’s Teen Against Bullying posted on their website some tips on how people can protect themselves from cyberbullying and how they could prevent themselves from bullying others.

People who use social media should be more vigilant on keeping their passwords and personal data away from other people and they should also keep in mind the golden rule in using social media: ‘Think before you click’. Netizens should learn how they manage their emotions and maintain to have a gentle behavior when using social media. Furthermore, victims of cyberbullying should reach out to someone who could help them in order for them to address the problem and fix the situation.  Offenders could be called out and there might be a chance that they might stop their bullying and defamation.

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