cyberbullying

Too (Much) Social (Media)

5:22:00 PM

I grew up without social media, and I'm glad I did. Middle school was tough enough without having to worry about it spilling over to the World Wide Web. The extent of my "social media" involvement before graduating high school was an online blogging site called Xanga, AOL instant messenger and the occasional chat room.

I joined Facebook the summer before I went off to college. That was back when all the site had to offer was wall posts, private messages, pokes and limited photo albums. I created a MySpace profile during my freshman year; it is now nonexistent. I started blogging here my senior year, but didn't really get into it until I started working full-time. Also since I started working, I've started a Tumblr account (which is woefully neglected most of the time), have a LinkIn profile, joined Pinterest, started tweeting and just recently started using Instagram. And, of course, I have access to all of these social media outlets on my phone.

Looking at the list I just typed makes me feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of time I must be devoting to these websites. And I'm not alone. We're connected 24/7/365, especially teenagers and pre-teens.

According to Leverage:
  • There are 70 million active users on Pinterest.
  • Twitter's 560 million active users  sent 5,700 tweets per second.
  • 1 billion active Facebook users share 2.5 billion pieces of content each day.
  • Instagram has 150 million active users.
  • Google+ boasts 400 million active users with 925,000 signing up every day.
  • LinkedIn has 240 million active users. 79% of users on the professional social networking site are 35 or older.

I use social media to network, save recipes and home project ideas, reconnect with old friends, work and stay entertained. Kids, on the other hand, are using it in place of everyday interactions, choosing to text or Snapchat someone rather than carry on a face-to-face or even over-the-phone conversation. Not only are conversation skills deteriorating, but kids are also not learning how to deal with problems. Instead, of working things out in person, they resort to name-calling and bullying on social media.

An even-scarier trend has emerged recently. Kids are pre-arranging fights for the sole purpose of having them recorded and posted to YouTube. We did an investigative series on this alarming trend last month. You can watch them here, here and here.

This latest trend in cyberbullying makes me even more grateful to have grown up in a time without social media. Nowadays, kids don't get any breaks from bullies.

Back when I was in school, if you had a problem with someone you fought about it and then it was over. You didn't have to worry about someone sending you threatening text messages or posting all the details of your argument all over the internet. Nowadays you can't just get over your differences. They live forever online.

According to nobullying.com, 25% of teenagers say they've been bullied through their cell phone or over the internet. Fifty-two percent of young people say they've been cyberbullied. A third of those say they were threatened online. Even more disturbing, of the 55% of teens on social media who say they've seen cyberbullying, 95% say they ignore it.

I don't know about you guys, but those are scary statistics.

Learn more about cyberbullying and ways to prevent and/or report it at http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/

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3 comments

  1. Hi, Ashton! It gave me a jolt when you wrote that you are grateful to have grown up in a time w/o social media. Ingrained as it now is in American life, it's easy to forget that it is a relatively new phenomenon. Young as you are, I assumed that you embraced every form of social media available to you, never questioning the potential consequences of staying connected with everybody all the time.

    I don't know the answer to cyberbullying. Perhaps ignoring it helps reduce its potency and power to hurt us. More often than not, reporting it does not bring about a peaceful resolution. Parents and school officials do not seem to have the will or the way to effectively combat the problem. You might recall the case of Rebecca Sedwick, the 12 year old girl who jumped to her death from a tower after months of being bullied online and off. She lived here in my community and nearly a year after the tragedy there are few answers and no justice.

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    1. I have a LOT of social media. However, I don't rely on it for life, you know? I think it's because with my family, husband and friends we all grew up with REAL communication so that's what we turn to. That's not to say that FB is very convenient for keeping friendships going, but I'd much rather talk to people than post on their wall. It's so impersonal.

      I don't know about society anymore though. It's as if everyone is being taught that you have to agree with everything these days, which makes social media worse. If anyone sees something that expresses a different opinion, they attack it. There used to be such a thing as being tolerant without agreeing.

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  2. ay yi yi. this is scary.

    i participate in most of the social media that you mentioned. it is ok. sometimes it is fun. sometimes it seems like a lot of blather, self-promotion, self-congratulation, sympathy pleas, and attention-seeking grabs. i find that irritating, but the cyber-bully stuff is downright scary. not good. not good at all.

    a friend (not really, she is kind of an ass) that has two kids institutes a social media/computer/electronic-free-device-day every now and again for her family. they are all supposed to hang out, get outside, and get their heads away from games, phones and computers. i think that is a good idea, but it should probably happen more often. all of this makes my head hurt. honestly, most days i'd rather be reading a book. or watching tv (which i suppose isn't any better). i guess these are all forms of escapism. i guess.

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