By James Prumos, Trending Writer
Twenty years ago, bullying was mostly confined to schools. The Internet was fairly new to the public. Major social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram did not exist, and cellular phones were not much more than a home wireless phone that could be taken anywhere.
Now, the concept of social media via the Internet has become integrated into our society, including our youth. Most people have a smartphone that can be used to take pictures or videos and quickly upload them to a social media website. There are also apps such as Yik Yak that allow one to anonymously post whatever is on their mind and can see local posts.
Bullying is no longer confined to the walls of a school. An innocent person can be turned into a meme on the internet so that millions of people can see them and make fun of them. The anonymity of the Internet compels people to say whatever comes to mind. Those bullied have to deal with the triple threat of being made fun of by peers they know in real life, having actions of theirs being posted online for millions to see, and for thousands of comments on websites to follow that trivialize them.
While cyberbullying is the least popular form of bullying today, it is going to become much more prominent in the future, as the youth are raised to use electronic devices. Not only that, but it is also going to extend beyond youth. The internet is now used by people of all ages. For example, even when the subject is not being bullied, comments on a YouTube video can quickly become negative towards the video’s subject.
The best way to combat bullying, particularly cyberbullying, is to teach youth through anti-bullying programs. These programs need to teach children how to use technology as a way to benefit others rather than as a tool to bully. Targets of bullying also need to be in these programs; victims often do not report that they have been bullied. They need to be taught how to properly report incidents of this nature and how to safely intervene in situations where one is being bullied.
As technology becomes more prominent in people’s lives, ways to perform bullying are going to increase. With this in mind, care must be taken to ensure that these new technological advances are being used toward a common good and not to promote malice.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 3rd print edition.
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