According to the National Bullying Prevention Center (2018) one out of every five student has been reported as being bullied. The survey showed that fifty nine percent of U.S. teens have personally experienced one out of the six types of abusive online bullying. These online abusive bullying consist of name calling, physical threats, rumors or false allegations, photos or images being shared without the students permission, or having others constantly asking where they are or who they are with. Smart phones, tablets, computers and other social media access allows constant access to the internet. Data shows that students are constantly online even during school hours. Female students are shown to be bullied more than male students (23 percent vs. 19 percent) however male students are more likely to be threatened with physical bullying (National Center for Educational Statistics 2016).
Cyberbullying is an aggressive, intentional act carried out by an individual or group of people. The act of abuse is carried out through electronic form rather than in person where more than likely the victim cannot stand up for themselves. Majority of the time the
act is done anonymously by using a fake name, profile picture and leaving the victim the inability to defend themselves. Adolescents use technology to interact with their peers, form new friendships, and stay in contact with family members and parents online. The issue with this form of communication it allows for others to be vulnerable and accessible for individuals to harass and attack an individual with the inability for the person to be able to fight back.
This topic is one that needs to be addressed more than ever. Being a victim of cyberbullying it is very emotional topic but one that needs to be discussed. Cyberbullying not only occurs with the youth both also at the higher learning level and with adults. Social media has many outlets that allow an individual to attack a person’s integrity and the individual not able to defend themselves. For example if Mrs. X posts a comment on their timeline on Facebook or Instagram and are not friends with them the individual being attacked cannot address the allegations. Sometimes the aggressor will do it in a format that does not mention names but the audience knows exactly who they are speaking of. Cyberbullying is a leading cause of deaths of our adolescents today and we need to understand that as technology advances how much easier it will be for aggressors to harass others. We need to find a solution on how to be able to identify when someone is being cyberbullied and educate our youth on how to handle these types of situations. Although many studies have been done on cyberbullying no concrete evidence has been able to identify a solution that will eventually decrease the number of cases being reported every year.
Impact of Mental Health
Cyberbullying has a detrimental effect on a student’s outlook on themselves. Students now have been the targets of cyberbullying are at a higher risk of mental health and behavioral problems. According to the Journal of School Health (Patchin 2010) victims of cyberbullying do not seek help from adults therefore leaving young adults not knowing how to deal with this situation. Instead they hide and start experiencing negative health effects. Youth will start developing self blame and start believing that they caused the bullying therefore deserves the treatment they are receiving. Students can start suffering from depression, violent behavior, suicide thoughts and substance abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control (2018) not only due the victims suffers from thoughts of suicide but also the students who bully others can suffer from these things.
Victims usually experience feelings of isolation, experience anger, frustrutation, sadness, loneliness, and lower self esteem.
According to live science (Nierenberg 2015) cyberbullying is linked to depression in teenagers. As previously stated the victim finds themselves feeling helpless, anxiety and vulnerable. At the adolescent stage they are forming their identity which is highly influenced by their peers. The victims suffer from sociological and psychological consequences more than a person who is bullied in person at school. These mental issues tend to carry on into their adulthood due to their psychological, mental and sociological issues that they experience. Psychological consequences occur because cyberbullying affects the “online self” (University of Kentucky 2016). The digital self consists of self images, online picture, friends, and comments therefore according to studies it shows when cyberbullying occurs it destroys the adolescent’s perception of their self image.
When an adolescents self image is destroyed Silvashanker (2016) claims that the adolescents will become depressed and possibly have suicidal thoughts. Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents in the United States. 13.8 percent of high school students have considered suicide and 6.3 percent have actually attempted suicide in the past year. Cyberbullicide is a term that refers to suicide that is influenced by experiences with online aggression according to researchers. Examples of cyberbullying that lead to suicide are Tyler Clementi from Ridgewood, New Jersey. His roommate secretly recorded him having private sexual encounters with another male student and then exposed them viral on the Internet through video broadcasting. This student killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Another example is Megan Meir a thirteen year old. The mother of Megan’s former friend created a fake my space account which portrayed her to be a fictional boy who was interested in her. Then at a later time stated that the “world would be a better place without you”. The mother did this as an attempt to redeem her daughter for a failed friendship. Megan killed herself due to this bullying.
According to the Journal of Adolescent Health (2016) cyberbullying affects adolescents more negatively than a face to face encounter. Although it has been shown that there is a negative influence on adolescents mental health there is not enough research to support the causes. A study of longitudinal association between cyberbullying and the youth’s mental health was conducted. There were a total of 2480 teenagers that took part of this study. The information was collected from participants that were between the ages of 12-13 years old. After a year time passed the adolescents were examined again to see what the future symptoms of these children were. In this study it showed a high prevalence of cyberbullying and the possibilities of cybervictimization in the future.
Due to the rise and advancement of technology online communication has increased substantially over the past decade. This advancement however is a killer for our youth as cyberbullying is correlated with the daily use of the internet and personal cell phones. Social media and the internet do have its benefits according to the article about detection of cyberbullying but also leaves our youth vulnerable to threatening situations (Van Hee 2018). According to the University of Kentucky a study showed that ninety seven percent of adolescents ranging from the age of twelve to eighteen years old used the internet at least one time a week. In their study they found that cyberbullying had a negative side effect on our youth’s development due to a “greater power of imbalance” due to not knowing the identity of the person who is attacking them.
It is imperative that parents are involved and aware of what their child is doing at all times. Parents who are involved can detect if any issues are occurring on social media by tracking website that child is visiting. Parents have the ability to be able to control and limit access to social media. According to Zhou and Ybarra and Mitchell (2016) online monitoring is necessary and can promote a healthier online experience. However according to Sasson and Mersch (2016) they found that the more involved that the parent would be and restrict online access to the student the more the child would find a way to bypass what they were restricting them to access.
According to the journal parental control of the time preadolescents spend on social media (Fardouly 2018) the study shows that the amount of time spent on social media will determine how much of a risk the child has to being exposed to cyberbullying. The less time that the adolescent spent on social media the more likely they would have better mental health. The adolescent is less likely to look for acceptance from others and compare themselves to their peers.
In a study of eight hundred and thirteen participants in the grade level seventh through tenth grade students and their parents. The gender composition was 45.4% men and 54.6 % females which ranged from the ages of 12 to 18 years of age. It is shown that girls are more likely to be receptive to parent involvement where boys are more likely not to be receptive.
Parental monitoring is viewed as a control dimension that consists of attention to what their adolescent is doing such as whereabouts, activities and friendships. According to studies there are four parenting styles which are the authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglecting parent. Some research state that it is not the monitoring that helps prevent cyberbullying but has more of a direct influence on reducing youth risk taking through adolescence. This is referred to as warmth and control. This type of parenting is viewed as a parent providing support and responsiveness.
Different parent strategies have been found both beneficial and harmful when it comes to preventing cyberbullying. The negative impact that it can have on adolescents is that these restrictive parental strategies is that these parents can be viewed as “helicopter” parents. Helicopter parents are defined as a parent who pays extremely close attention to what their child’s experiences and problems are. This can cause issues for adolescents because it does not allow the child to figure out to handle situations because either mommy or daddy is taking care of it. It was shown in a recent study that adolescents in elementary and middle school have a higher level of perceived parental monitoring being linked to higher levels of cyberbullying (Meter and Bauman 2018).
Evidence has suggested that parents struggle to control and monitor their adolescents activities online therefore leaving their child susceptible to cyberbullying. Parents are oblivious to the amount of time adolescents have access to the internet. However studies do show that parents who are aware of what they are doing online allows them to address issues that do arise. Parental warmth has been studies and examined to show that it is protective against both victimization and perpetration (Ybarra and Mitchell 2004).
Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention efforts
Schools are held accountable for addressing cyberbullying due to it being a major public health issue. School administrators have been interviewed about cyberbullying and discussed their experiences with this ongoing issue. Three major themes came from the data collected which showed that cyberbullying is major issue and challenge this is rising, facilitators of cyberbullying for preventive action which includes parents and technology, and lastly the prevention efforts. According to the qualitive study (Young, Tully, Ramirez 2017) it shows due to lack of parent involvement and police complicate response and prevention at schools. It also showed that due to the presence of technology it presents a challenge due to the use of technology is a necessary and important part of education today.
In a study of forty students it allowed for them to give their input on cyberbullying. The criteria to be involved in this study consisted of the adolescent had to be enrolled in high school and have access to technology on a daily basis. Out of the 40 students twenty of them where from each participating school which allowed cross-site analysis. Participants where between the age of fifteen and eighteen which parental consent was needed to participate in this study.
According to the qualitative survey they used coding that involved the parents, school and community. In the curriculum which was considered to be level two the studied described how adults may help with cyberbullying. Curriculum would consist of teaching not to blame technology but blame people. In the study it discussed how parents need to focus on what is causing the negative aspects but instead “no one wants to blame another human, cause humans fight back. Teachers don’t want to get blamed; the students don’t want to get blamed, so they blame the object. (Parris, Varjas, Meyers 2015).
Results of this studied showed that students believed that their peers would benefit from increasing online security as well as becoming more aware of “cyber-surroundings”. Although on the other side students stated that there is little help that adults can do to reduce cyberbullying. It was also found that cyberbullying should be included in the curriculum to teach not only students about this issue but also to teach adults to stop blaming technology for what humans are inflicting on other humans. More training and strategies for parents and teachers to understand how technology works and help with more online safety and awareness.
New Methods of Research
By analyzing the data and how the internet and technology impacts the roles of our adolescents it is crucial that we study how to prevent cyberbullying in the future. As technology advances it becomes easier for cyberbullying to occur. We need to concentrate on how to become better aware of signs that indicate cyberbullying is occurring not only by parents but also by everyone
The purpose of this research study is the examine the following:
1. The purpose of this study was to show that there is evidence that cyberbullying is a leading cause of deaths of adolescents today.
2. How does technology advancement make it easier for cyberbullying to occur?
Students who have been cyberbullied will be surveyed to determine what methods of communication would work best to provide them a safe environment to look for help. The survey will also included questions on how effective it would be to have teachers or administrators start a program that provides helpful tools or keywords to allow students to be comfortable on reporting cyberbullying that they are aware of.
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