By Brianna Baldwin and Katie Keith
Social image. A thing every person on the planet wants to have, some good and some bad. When social media was created in 1979 by Tom Truscott, the plan was to be able to communicate and stay up to date with your friends. Social media can have a very good influence by giving users an outlet and possible advice during hard times, giving users confidence boosts through likes and comments on pictures, and even helping users who would normally never meet due to finances and geography to make a connection and become friends. But unfortunately, some people use it to tear down others to make themselves feel better. To clarify, cyber bullying is the act of bullying someone through social media and spreading hatred. Many think of bullying as a repetitive physical act of violence, name calling, pointing out insecurities specifically to upset another person, or any other act, saying, or phrase that could mentally damage a person, which can lead to self-inflicted harm or even suicide. This mainly happens through social media, and certain platforms cause more harm than help. The top three are Instagram, Ask.fm, and Facebook
The social media that is most notorious for cyber bullying is Instagram. Instagram was created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom, and the app became very popular very fast. Instagram is popular due to the ability to share what you want, gain followers, and keep up with people’s lives, but the app also leads to problematic mental health. People gain follower obsession and take out their frustration on others. Out of a pole of 10,000 people, all from ages 12 to 24, forty-two percent said they have experienced bullying and hate comments. Sixty-eight percent said they received direct messages with nasty messages, and thirty-nine percent said it was a hate comment on their post. Famous people who posted on the app can give people body issues. They see all the famous instagram models and compare themselves, trying to look like them. In this process, the people who are comparing themselves start making hateful comments towards the original poster. Although Instagram is good for keeping up with friends and looking at memes, it can cause an epic downfall in confidence and self-esteem.
Another app that can be very harmful and a place for bullying is Ask.fm. The app has declined in popularity, but when the app came out in 2010, it was very popular. This app allows you to receive and leave anonymous messages. The app is free to sign up, and you don’t have to use your real name. That causes of the fear of having the comment tied to your name disappear. The hateful comments that people posted on their Ask.fm led nine teens to commit suicide. From twelve-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, who jumped off a building in 2013, to seventeen-year-old Daniel Perry who hung himself after being repeatedly told to kill himself.
One slightly surprising social media that has been reported for a substantial amount of cyber bullying is Facebook. It has even been deemed the third highest cyber bullying platform. Although many Facebook users are a part of older generations, there are still many teenagers and young adults on the platform as well. With Facebook, users can post their daily lives such as where they go to eat, life events such as family gatherings and prom, problems or challenges they have faced during the day, and so much more. Another option that many teenagers utilize is posting pictures of themselves that they think look nice, hoping for a self confidence boost by seeing the number of likes or reading nice comments, but this isn’t always the case. Especially now. Many teens post pictures of themselves and receive negative feedback; users are able to comment anything they want, so many teens find rude comments on their pictures. These negative comments can range from simple sayings such as “you’re ugly” or “you should lose some weight” all the way to harsh comments such as “go kill yourself.” Any negative comment can damage a person’s mental health and the way they think about themselves but the harsher comments are much more likely to push teen suffering from mental illness into suicide. Sadly, many have chose this option due to comments such as these.
Bullying has been an issue for a long time now, but with advancements in technology, the internet and popular social media platforms have become the main medium many bullies choose to utilize. Although there are many solutions to this awful problem, none are perfect, and even less are being advertised, listened to, and used properly. The only foolproof plan to avoid cyber bullying is to stay completely offline, which is an extreme measure for most teenagers to take. Putting a stop to cyber bullying is a work-in-progress but it will take more time than it should if teenagers aren’t helping stop it. Today’s teenagers need to report bullying whether they are a victim or a bystander as well as try to stop bullies in their tracks as it happens.