Cyberbullying and Social Media
Today, it is important to understand that technological trend is developing at an alarming rate. Enormous amounts of information are added into the social media sites each day. Cyberbullying mainly represent an expansion and modification of traditional bullying into the electronic realm (Kowalski et al, 2010). It is referred as an intentional aggressive act that is performed by an individual or a group of people using the various electronic forms of communication, repeatedly and over a given span of time against an innocent victim (Hinduja et al, 2009). As individuals seek to explore social media sites such as twitter, facebook, and Hi5, inappropriate behavior such as cyberbullying always crop. The practice of cyberbullying normally occurs through the utilization of “real time” mechanisms such as chartroom communication, instant messaging, forwarding electronic images and texting. The cyberbullyig assaults may take place in any place and at any time as long as the target posses the necessary electronic garget. The insults sent may concurrently reach the multiple individuals. This acts of bullying results into unknown torture and fear to the intended target (Bastiaensens et al, 2014; Ng, 2012).
In the year 2006, a 13 year old young girl called Megan Meier committed suicide. The incident gained an international coverage with the close sources indicating that the young girl had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and depression. The sources reveal that the young girl was having a cyber relationship with an imposer “Josh”, the man she met through MySpace profile. To a strange revelation of this event, actually this was her neighbor Lori Drew who had used a fake MySpace profile to intimidate her. After six weeks the fake relationship went sour and the imposer wrote on Meir profile that “the world would be better place without you”. This made the young immature girl to lose hope and commit suicide. The Missouri state legislature typically responded to the case by developing a cyberbulying offence to the imposer by demanding maximum of 90 days in jail or a fine not less than $500 with surety of the same (Luxton et al, 2012).
According to empirical survey, the rates of cyberbullying among males and females are normally equal, with insults and negative name calling occupying the most frequent methods of cyberbullying. Documentary reports reveal that about 88% of cyberbulying incidences occur annually and out of this only 9.55% are reported to the relevant authorities (Cloud, 2010). The rest of the students decide to manage the experience of cyberbullying individually. This occurs mainly among the adolescents’ individuals who feel that they may be restricted by their parents on the use of electronic devices upon reporting cyberbullying. To the reported cases, parents’ intervention is normally insufficient due to technological age gap. Since most parents often fail to intervene, schools and churches are often requested to intervene by teaching appropriated and clear guidelines on the best mechanism on how to use electronic communication (Kopko, 2006).
The anonymous nature of online communication proves it as a suitable medium to elevate cyberbullying. Most of these technologies are untraceable thus limiting the identification of these offenders. The practice normally empowers the offender and poses detrimental effects on the on the targeted victims (Prados et al 2007). A young person who undergoes cyberbullying normally faces emotional and social challenges. Most of them usually opt to absent themselves from school, abuse alcohol, and carry weapons as a defense mechanism against the offenders (MacEachern et al, 2010). The use and popularity of social media networks also provide some vital and positive impacts on the lives of the users. The social media offers numerous tools and resources that are vial in academics. The use of media technology forms of communication further improves the learners’ technical, communication and interpersonal skills. The online communication assists in personal identification an integral part of adolescent development. Furthermore, online communication provides enormous opportunity for an open expression and to develop socially (Strom et al, 2012).
During this period of exploration, cliques such as bullying, sexual experimentation, sexual experimentation and other form s of assaults occur. Traditional bullying is distinct from online bullying since the speed and breath of disseminating information online is normally very fast (Pettalia et al, 2013). A survey study indicates that a single threat that is made online may have detrimental effects to many people as compared to the one made offline (Hinduja, at al, 2009). To majority, the online insults are considered real and violent. Dr. Faye Mishna in his study discusses the current metamorphosis of social forums that have perceived the conventional bullying. The newly formed social forums have created new bully mechanisms by allowing the offenders to create a fake identity and remain anonymous. Furthermore, the bullies are often protected to view the consequences of actions thus unable to develop a conclusive sense of empathy. This perpetuates the bullying process among not only the youths but to all individuals who are fond of using social media (Bastiaensens, 2014).
Conclusion and Recommendations
The issue of individual rights of expression is highly regarded and protected in many states of the world. In countries such as Canada, their chatter guarantees freedom of opinion, belief and expression. In some sections, the freedom is normally limited. In United States of America, their chatter has been amended to protect citizens from speech and press. In education sector, the chatter has established a prompt policy to protect the learners and minimize the cases of infringements that may occur in school contexts (Taylor, 2008; Ahlfors, 2010). This should be done by inclusion of best ways of using social media education on the school curriculum. This will explain to the learners on the dangers of misusing the electronic devices to intimidate others and students who may found on the wrong side of the law should be punished disciplined. Parents also should be educated to help them distinguish the social media that is natural or positive from the one that is dangerous and abuses their children (McQuade, 2009).
It is relatively difficult to determine the level of effectiveness of the proposed measures to curb cyberbullying. In United States of America, the federal government does impose any legal responsibility to the Internet Service Providers for any form of deformity that may be created by the third parties. In the year 1996, the legislature attempted to limit the possibility of online indecent speech however the act was aborted by the U.S. Supreme Court (Strom, 2012). Therefore this legislation does not provide a strong role in limiting the cases of cyberbullying in the country. Therefore, it is important for every state to carefully draft a legislation that focus on cyberbulying and provide respect to individual rights.
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