Social Media Bullying

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When it comes to cyber bullying, statistics show most cases are taking place on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. In 280 characters or less, teens can make hurtful and emotionally scarring comments about fellow schoolmates on Twitter. On Instagram, they may leave bullying and mean comments on photos including body shaming or fat shaming comments about a person’s picture featuring their body or highlighting their appearance. On Facebook, the messenger app makes it easy for kids to send cruel messages back and forth, create groups where teens can gang up on one another. On Snapchat, known for sending easy-to-delete photos, teens can pass around inappropriate photos of classmates or hurtful images that can fall under various forms of bullying harassment. While bullying statistics show overall bullying rates continue to decline in the United States, social media has made it easier than ever for teens to participate in this ugly trend. However, with social media sites, there are methods of recourse. Keep reading to learn more.

Cyberbullying and Social Media:

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow teens to share pictures, posts and communicate with friends. However, they are also a hotspot for social media bullying. And the bullying behavior doesn’t always start and stop with teenagers. Many Instagram Influencers are subjected to dozens, if not hundreds and thousands, of rude and bullying comments daily on their accounts. Instagram is known for posting pictures to share with friends, family and followers. However when teens are using such an app to make hurtful comments, spread rumors and participate in other forms of verbal/written bullying, it can create lasting emotional scars for the victim.

More research on social media and cyberbullying indicates that while only about 10 percent of teens have reported being bullied on social media, the harm can be far more lasting and severe than the typical school-yard bully name calling. Making threats via social media, sexually suggestive comments and hate speech are all various forms of social media bullying.

Is it Bullying or Banter?

Twitter is a popular social media tool among teens and young adults. It’s an easy way to share information, talk to friends and update status’ to followers. However, it can be a tool used to target people directly with harmful words, spread rumors and share outright lies.

Much media attention is placed on President Donald J. Trump’s outlandish Twitter feed featuring some tweets that subjectively threaten others. However, some see the president’s use of his Twitter account as a prize of free speech where he is able to banter back and forth on a variety of topics pertaining to the United States. However, some of the subjects of his tweets indicate he uses his social media tool as a method to make harmful comments and bully others; making threats and name calling being two of the most common complaints. It is unclear what type of example this behavior sets for some of the younger Twitter users.

Social Media Bullying Recourse:

Fortunately, there are ways to monitor what your teen does online and on their social media accounts. Be friends with your child on Facebook. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Monitor their Snapchat usage. Some parents go as far as ensuring they can log on to their child’s social media profiles if need be. However, there are other ways to pay attention to what your child does online.

In addition, it is important for teens and social media users of all ages to know there are rules governing social media usage. Each set of rules is specific to the social media platform. For example, Twitter has a Hateful Conduct Policy in which users can report posts that violate the rules of Twitter’s service. These rules include:
Promoting violence
Threatening or attacking other people or inciting harm based on a person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.

It is important to note that on Twitter’s Hateful Conduct policy, it stipulates that when a post is reported for violating the rules, Twitter’s post monitors may consider the context in which the post was made before it outright removes the tweet or suspends the account.

Similarly, Facebook allows an easy method of reporting photos and posts. Users can report hate speech, non-consensual use of another person’s photos, photos that may illustrate a threatening position against a person or groups of persons as well as direct threats made against a user.

One useful tool to help combat social media bullying is the block feature. It is a simple process to block followers on the various social media platforms. Ridding your profile of such negativity can make the entire social media experience more pleasant and safe. On Instagram, users can turn off comments on posts, which makes it easier to prevent users from leaving harmful comments, make threats or participate in body-shaming commentary. In addition, protecting yourself or your teen on social media should include being extremely selective in who you allow access to your profile. Recognize that on Twitter, it is more difficult to do so as profiles cannot be made private. Facebook offers tight privacy settings for users, which makes it easier to keep bullies out. On Instagram, users can also change their profiles to private. Close monitoring of social media pages is one of the best ways to keep bullies from being able to do damage to their victims.

Sources:
Stopbullying.gov. Twitter.com, facebook.com, instagram.com