image by: DeclanTM via flickr
Today more than ever, people of all age groups are extremely reliant on the internet. Whether they use electronic media to exchange information for work, search online journals to write papers, or to keep in contact with friends and family, the internet is one asset that many people feel they cannot live without. As I was trying to determine how I could relate youth violence back to my own life, I thought of how the internet, a form of technology I am extremely dependent on, can be used in harmful ways. Cyberbullying, the form of aggression of the new generation, has recently gained a great deal of publicity and attention due to its complexity. What differentiates this form of bullying from typical, in-person bullying is it’s ability to dehumanize the victims since no aggression is done face to face. In a way, it is a form of bullying that never ends since it continues after children return home from school.
Specifically, two recent news reports have been published that outline the dire consequences of online harassment and embarrassment. The first article published in the Washington Post reported that 9 out of 10 teenagers have been bullied on social networking sites such as Facebook. As an avid Facebook user, this statistic is greatly distressing to hear. Social networking sites were created for people to keep in touch with old friends and learn about people’s lives; not for embarrassment and harassment. The article addresses one potential reason behind the frequency in internet bullying. People are able to take on an “alter-ego” that receives less consequences than is at risk when people are faced with in-person confrontation. Although sites like Facebook have strategies for people to protect their privacy such as blocking users and pictures, students seem to find a way around it and continue the harassment and embarrassment.
The second article takes the issue of cyberbullying a step further and links cyberbullying and social media to a recent teen’s suicide. According to the website, a 16 year-old girl committed suicide after constant vicious posts on her social media website. Comments included “you’re worthless” and “go kill yourself.” This article shocked me to realize that such routine activities such as going on the internet and visiting social networking sites, activities that I do countless times each day, could end it hurtful, life-threatening acts. These articles really made me wonder what steps need to be taken to alter youth’s perception of right and wrong. It is clear that for a majority of adolescents, bullying is no longer a school-based problem.