The Evolution of and Effects of Cyberbullying
Bullying has always emanated concern amongst educators, parents, and regulatory authorities. However, in recent times, victimization has gone beyond the school compound to the digital platform where peers, workmates, classmates, and online acquaintances perpetuate harassment through their technological devices. Cyberbullying entails constant hostility and aggressiveness on other people, which eventually causes great harm on their physical and psychological wellbeing. Notably, bullies find it easy to victimize others on the digital platform since they can use various sites like chats, websites, messages, and social media to perpetrate their actions at any time, as seen in the discussion.
Context of Cyberbullying
In most cases, cyber bullying comes in the context of despicable emails or text messages with false rumors, which are either texted or posted on the social media. In addition, embarrassing pictures, websites, fake profiles, or videos may also be used. The frequency and the continued trend of cyber bullying is highly facilitated by the fact that victimization can be perpetrated at any time. The images or videos can be posted from the anonymous source, while technology makes it difficult to delete embarrassing posts. With the increased occurrence of cyberbullying, victims face substantial adverse effects on their behavioral and psychosocial wellbeing. Nonetheless, arguments often arise with people claiming that Cyberbullying is a form of fun that might be allowed for male bullies as it exhibits their degrees of masculinity, while victims take equal measures of the blame for being harassed. The controversy encompassing cyber bullying emanates from false beliefs or the existence of blame games on victims, but the reality is that victimization is total menace, which affects the mental and psychological well-being of an individual as technology continues to facilitate the permanency of this aggressive behavior.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Low Self-Esteem. Cyberbullying significantly affects the self-esteem of the victim. According to some research, young people are the most molested on the digital platform (Patchin and Hinduja 615). Due to this persistent aggression, it becomes hard for them to develop their individual identities during their transition from childhood to adulthood, a stage that mostly relies on the societal response to nurture their psychosocial wellbeing. In fact, the adolescent period is a dangerous step in any teenager’s life as most of them, according to societal wishes, avoid certain traits or embrace others as they fear to stereotype. Cyber bullying is one such societal experience that negatively affects adolescent development, since the rejection that comes with this kind of harassment gradually diminishes the self-esteem of a victim (Patchin and Hinduja 616). Juvenile victimization is mostly sparked by interpersonal conflict between peers, which leads friends to target and torment each other by their negative traits or weak points.
When this process commences, peers immensely hurt each other, where the victim, in this case, feels rejected by fellow friends leading to a gradual erosion of their self-esteem. Later, such a casualty can continue to face further victimization on the digital platform and become a potential target for bullies. In this case, the aggressive behavior of bullies can quickly point out an individual with low esteem through one’s expressions and actions as they try to catch the attention and eliminate the feeling of rejection. Moreover, some authors speculate that bullies have low esteem issues and find it easier to harass others on the digital platform, as anonymity makes it easy for them to perpetrate their heinous actions (Patchin and Hinduja 619). It is crucial to understand that during this period, it is easy to know an adolescent whose self-esteem is low or engage in behavior that lowers their worth.
In fact, low esteem has serious repercussions on teens that are either engaging or are facing victimization from their peers as the negativities involved are exhibited through direct or indirect behavioral changes. Some of the arising issues include skipping school, which leads to low academic performance. In addition, victimization is shameful for young people leading to extreme feelings of anger and eventually depression. On the other hand, fear of rejection or exposure among peers leaves victims and bullies always anxious, while low self-esteem continues to inhibit their success in the social and education platforms (Stauffer et al. 353). Clearly, technological advancement does more harm than good, considering that most students now languish in low self-esteem that eventually filtrates into their adult life, producing unconfident professionals.
Increased Suicides. Cyber bullying is a leading causal factor of increased suicide incidences amongst online users. Of all the world population, at least a third of these people are active social media users. Indeed, the reasons for this heavy usage is based on the fact that the digital platforms are accommodating and open for all individuals to express themselves, interact, and communicate with other people occasionally (Chang et al. 454). However, the media platform leaves space for people to be mentally tormented through evil actions or words that push victims to contemplate and commit suicide. In one Taiwanese study, the authors provide that negative mentalities are caused by various reasons, including sexual solicitation on the digital platform or personification of a person on a video or image with sexually oriented themes. Increased access to digital devices has led to frequent harassment, especially on sexual approaches (Chang et al. 459). In addition, bullies can torment victims into committing suicide if they approach them on relationship grounds, as it is for female victimizers, while the male ones do so through verbal or physical assault strategies.
Cyberbullies also harass their victims based on their economic status, where adolescents from poor homes provide a pathway for bullies to torment them by their financial inequality, a process that adversely affects their mental wellbeing (Chang et al. 460). For example, in 2012, the New York Daily News posted a story about a Canadian girl who faced online harassment to the point of contemplating and successfully committing suicide. From this post, the young girl died as she continually faced victimization from her classmates for uploading a naked video in 2011, which resurfaced in 2012, exposing her to extreme cruelty from her peers at school and on the social media platform (Murray 1). According to Amanda’s parents, changing schools did not end this cruel attitude; instead, it increased the vice, thus affecting her mental stability to the extent of exposing her to alcoholic abuse, recurrent wrist cutting, and eventually, her death. In essence, cyberbullying will continue to persist and lead more people to commit suicide since it is not possible to change the sexuality of a person or one’s economic status, relationship, or gender.
Substance Abuse. Cyber bullying is associated with increased depression and anxiety in victims, which eventually leads them to engage in drug addiction. A study of female college students pointed out that college girls facing cyber harassment are often involved in drug addiction as compared to those who are not confronting the same issue (Selkie et al. 79). In addition, the authors speculate that victimization increases alcohol abuse among female college students due to the depression that comes along with repeated harassment. Notably, cyberbullying continues into college from high school and is facilitated by the media, which makes it easy to retrieve and keep information. Due to this prolonged state of hopelessness and sadness, depression strikes in college, thus leading such girls to engage in dangerous alcoholic sprees. In most cases, cyber bullying amongst female college students comes in the form of unwanted sexual advances through their digital devices, especially their mobile phones resulting to increased indulgence in alcoholic abuse (Selkie et al. 83). Moreover, if college girls are in a violent relationship, their partners can take into harassing them on the social media from sexual approach actions, which lead most of the victims into being alcoholic for psychological comfort.
Significantly, high school students are also affected by cyberbullying in various ways. According to studies, the stress that comes along with peer harassment on the digital platform increases the likelihood of engaging in irresponsible alcoholic consumption and marijuana intakes (Goebert et al. 1285). The reason for substance abuse is because most young people are not ready to share their problems with their parent or counselors, a situation that leads them to find solace in drug addiction. Young people fear enrolling in support programs as doing so exposes them to more stereotyping from their peers, while, in essence, teenagers lack well developed coping strategies in stress management (Goebert et al. 1285). As such, substance abuse becomes the best solution for most cyberbullying victims as they live in a constant state of embarrassment and always feel powerless to stop the continuity of these actions. However, it is crucial to understand that alcohol and abuse of other drugs due to cyber bullying only worsens the psychological state of a victim or the bully. Therefore, the continuation of this pattern forms a vicious cycle that is hard to break unless an individual is put on professional treatment.
False Beliefs on Victimization. Cyber bullying has a variety of demerits on the wellbeing of a person. However, people still live with falsified ideas associated with victimization. For instance, most bullies cause harm on their victims with claims that their actions are meant for fun or are used to assess the masculinity degrees of a male bully. According to studies, the aggression exhibited in cyber bullying emanates from a bully’s need to achieve a particular motive, which is mostly for fun and to look for dominance amongst one’s peers (Li et al. 278). However, such a claim is unacceptable, considering that having fun at the expense of another individual’s psychological wellbeing is impossible. In addition, no one wishes to be insulted or stereotyped for one’s personality, characters, economic background, sexual affiliation, or uniqueness. Moreover, bullies are aware of their actions, but they harass others to cope with their aggressiveness while reaching a particular goal.
On the other hand, victimization on the digital platform continues to occur due to blame directed at the victim for their misfortune. Looking at the case of Amanda Todd, the 2012 suicide was mostly facilitated and encouraged by continued blame on the victim, who was being bullied for privately sending a topless image of her to a stranger to the social media (Murray 1). However, her classmates and peers did not blame the bully. Instead, they insensitively persisted in posting cruel messages on Amanda’s timeline until she could not take it anymore. It is due to such insensitivity that Amanda resulted to suicidal attempt by drinking a bleaching agent. While her actions called for support from her friends and family, Amanda received the opposite with her victimizers and the entire social media to mocking her suicidal attempt and encouraging her to do it again (Murray 1). Notably, the technology continually facilitates the occurrence of such fatal consequences as the frequency of harassment and easy retrieval of tormenting memories is hurting the world to the extent of losing young lives such as that of Amanda.
Remedy to Cyberbullying
To date, people still blame a victim when cyberbullying occurs, claiming that one’s behavior led them to face such intense psychological suffering. In fact, people have the opinion that a person’s actions have consequences and everyone should equally get what they deserve (Weber et al. 255). Nonetheless, cyber bullying can best be resolved through offering social support to the affected individuals instead of blaming them for the occurrence. Peers, family, and friends are the most appropriate people to help victims of cyberbullying than mocking or further rebuking them for a mistake they made on social media or when false rumors resurface. In fact, such actions stereotype people and tarnish their social image (Weber et al. 254). Particularly, false beliefs and inadequate support not only facilitates continued cyber bullying but also intensifies a victim’s suffering.
Technology advancement remains to be a controversial issue as people continue to uphold false ideologies and blame games on victims, while in reality, victimization adversely affects individuals to a great extent. The continuity of cyberbullying has been facilitated by the continued existence of false beliefs as bullies purposely ensure to perpetrate their heinous action at the expense of the victims. On the other hand, bullies continue to execute aggressive behavior with the aim of showing their masculinity and for fun. Notably, whenever a person is harassed, people have different opinions where. They go to the extent of blaming the victim and deviate from addressing the issue at hand. While individuals have differences of opinion of cyber bullying, the fact remains that victimization on the digital platform has immense negativities. The underlying reason is that it hurts most people’s self-esteem, especially teenagers. As a result, the confidence of such adolescents is affected largely, thus providing society with disturbed adults in future. In addition, cyberbullying leads most people to find solace in substance abuse, particularly those in high schools and colleges, since young people have inadequate abilities to cope with stressful situations, as continued rejection exposes them to depression and psychological disturbance. Lastly, cyber bullying is harmful in that it increases cases of suicidal occurrences. In essence, increased mental torture facilitates most suicides based on a person’s economic status, gender, or sexuality.
Chang, Fong-Ching, et al. “Relationships among Cyberbullying, School Bullying, And Mental Health in Taiwanese Adolescents.” Journal of School Health, vol. 83, no.6, 2013, pp. 454-462.
Goebert, Deborah, et al. “The Impact of Cyberbullying on Substance Use and Mental Health in a Multiethnic Sample.” Maternal & Child Health Journal, vol. 15, no. 8, 2011, pp. 1282-1286.
Li, Qing, Donna Cross, and Peter K. Smith. Cyberbullying in the Global Playground: Research from International Perspectives. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
Murray, Rheana. “Teen Who Posted Video About Cyberbullying Commits Suicide.” New York Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/cyberbullied-teen-commits-suicide-article-1.1181875. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Patchin, Justin, and Sameer, Hinduja. “Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem.” Journal of School Health, vol. 80, no. 12, 2010, pp. 614-621.
Selkie, Ellen M., et al. “Cyberbullying, Depression, and Problem Alcohol Use In Female College Students: A Multisite Study.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 18, no. 2, 2015, pp. 79-86.
Stauffer, Sterling, et al. “High School Teachers’ Perceptions of Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention Strategies.” Psychology in the Schools, vol. 49, no. 4, 2012 pp. 352-367.
Weber, Mathias, Marc Ziegele, and Anna Schnauber. “Blaming the Victim: The Effects of Extraversion and Information Disclosure on Guilt Attributions in Cyberbullying.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 16, no.4, 2013, pp. 254-259.