September 2, 2020 - Comments Off on Cyber Bullying And Its Effects On Teenagers/Adolescents
By Sara Israa
Cyberbullying or cyber harassment are no new terms. They are now commonly experienced by people who are active on social media and who use online spaces. Cyberbullying could be defined in many ways but basically it is when someone intentionally sends hurtful messages and pictures, spreads false information, threatens or blackmails you, hacks your social media, or impersonates you. It is something which is persistent, which is probably meant to intimidate the victim. The perpetrator might be known or unknown.
With the influx of technology, social media, and unlimited access to internet services, cyber bullying is on the rise. It won’t be wrong to say that online spaces are now becoming unsafe day by day, since we are not aware of the predators behind the screens. The peak of cyber bullying is now actually taking a toll on mental health. Teenagers are the most common victim of this since they belong to a vulnerable part of society and they also excessively use online spaces. It is disturbing because of its public and uncontrollable nature.
The teenagers who are cyber bullied experience a range of emotions such as increased anxiety, low and sad mood, school absenteeism, decreased self-esteem, difficulty focusing, and in extreme situations even suicide. Cyber bullying and adolescent mental health hold a strong relation together. There has been vast research that validates that harassment on the internet introduces feelings of guilt, worry, and depression. This at times aggravated since many teenagers have a hard time communicating. This results in self-blame which might be a reason for them choosing suicide.
Cyber victimization at times also leads to teenagers isolating themselves and spending their time worrying over the consequences of being shamed online. Similarly, children who experience cyber harassment may experience anger outbursts and may have relationship problems later in life. Cyber victims are more likely to experience somatic problems, including difficulty sleeping, headaches, and stomachaches, as compared to their unaffected peers. Many children in order to overcome or get away with post shame of cyber harassment may also indulge in substance abuse.
Unfortunately, most teenagers are unaware of digital safety hence they fall prey to cyber bullies. Also, a vast majority of research shows that in the past decade cyber harassment has become so prevalent that it is not considered a public health concern.
With cyber harassment showing a strong correlation with adverse effects of mental health it is high time now that we make the youth more aware of cyber safety. We at the individual and collective levels should try to make online safety more accessible. There is a dire need for mental health counselors to address the concerns of cyber victims and provide them with platforms where they can vent out and word out their perspectives and thoughts without being judged.
There are some ways which adults or parents can use to save their children from being cyber bullied. Firstly, be empathetic and listen to your child so that he/she can confide in you without fear. As a parent or adult, you can make sure that your child’s profile is private and not public, limit the number of friends your child adds on social media and allow only those to be added which he/she knows in real life, ensure about passwords safekeeping and ensure that your child knows how to report, block or delete someone who is harassing them. Get them engaged in offline activities. Remember, the less time they spend on their devices, the less likely it is that they will be cyberbullied.
Nixon, C. L. (2014). Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics, 5, 143. Vaillancourt, T., Faris, R., & Mishna, F. (2017). Cyberbullying in children and youth: Implications for health and clinical practice. The Canadian journal of psychiatry, 62(6), 368-373. https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/cyberbullying- and-teenagers Munawar, R., Inam-Ul-Haq, M. A., Ali, S., & Maqsood, H. (2014). Incidence, nature and impacts of cyber bullying on the social life of university students. World Applied Sciences Journal, 30(7), 827-830.
Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Blog