Essentials Guide on Preventing Cyberbullying and Teen Social Media Reality

Unfortunately, cyberbullying and teen social media are two phrases that have become synonymous in recent years. With the increasing use of Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms, we have seen a rise in digital abuse among young people. Consequently, learning about cyberbullying prevention has become an urgent issue. After all, it’s all about our future generations’ mental health and well-being.

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And so, on this occasion, we will learn more about cyberbullying and teen social media. We will discuss the risks related to social media platforms and highlight the importance of curbing online harassment. We will also discuss the role of digital citizenship in promoting safety and the value of online support networks. And after you’ve done reading this article, you will understand how to deal with cyberbullying among teenagers more properly!

So, let’s dive in!

Role of social media in cyberbullying incidents

As an expert in online safety and security, we have firsthand experience dealing with the devastating effects of online harassment and digital abuse on teenagers.

Social media platforms have allowed teenagers to easily harass each other because everything is connected and out in public. People can engage in cyberbullying as easily as by typing a comment in your social media post or sending hateful direct messages (DM). 

Moreover, they think they can get away with it because they can also do it anonymously. This anonymity has made it challenging to identify and punish those responsible for online harassment. But not just that. 

Role of social media in cyberbullying incidents
Role of social media

Social media platforms can multiply the effect of cyberbullying by allowing hurtful messages or images to be shared quickly and with a broader audience. In many cases, cyberbullying can even go viral, leading to crushing consequences for the victim’s mental state. 

Additionally, social media platforms often lack the resources or policies to effectively prevent and address cyberbullying incidents. For example, it is against Twitter’s rule to post malicious content to harass others. Yet, in reality, cyberbullying is so prevalent on this platform due to a lack of policy enforcement. It is very difficult to filter millions of comments being posted each minute.

Hence, it is up to us to understand the true nature of cyberbullying and how to deal with it.

How cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying

Cyberbullying and teen social media
differs from traditional bullying

To develop an effective strategy against cyberbullying, we have to first acknowledge this form of harassment is different from traditional bullying. And when we talk about cyberbullying and how it differs from traditional bullying, we can see several key differences.

1. Time and place

Firstly, cyberbullying occurs online through various methods, such as social media platforms, text messages, game chat, or email. It means that cyberbullying can occur 24/7 and can reach the victim even when they are not directly present in a school or social circle. In contrast, traditional bullying typically takes place face-to-face, such as in a school, club meetings, or playground.

2. Anonymity 

As we’ve implied above, a significant difference between cyberbullying and traditional bullying is the internet’s anonymity level. Cyberbullies can hide behind fake accounts, making identifying and punishing them trickier. On the other hand, traditional bullies are often known to their victims and may be easier to identify and confront.

3. Wider Audience

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Wider Audience

Cyberbullying can have a much larger audience than traditional bullying. A hurtful message, picture, meme, or post can be shared and viewed by millions and even strangers. That can lead to a more catastrophic impact on the victim’s emotional state. In contrast, traditional bullying may only occur in a particular place and time, 

4. Bullying Evidence 

Lastly, the evidence of cyberbullying can be permanent, as it can be saved, shared, and distributed widely. This may impact the victim’s online reputation and mental well-being for a long time. Traditional bullying often is usually more secretive, and there may not be any evidence of the behavior, especially if it is verbal only.

5. Impulsiveness

Traditional bullies often harass other people with clear motives to show dominance. The target is usually clear and specific, often to gain control over the victims, sometimes involving extortion and direct physical intimidation. Meanwhile, cyberbullies are sometimes impulsive. They can leave mean and intimidating messages on anyone’s public social media posts, even randomly. 

As you’ve read, there are several key differences that make cyberbullying a challenging scourge to eliminate from our society. Mind you, we are not trying to discount the harmfulness of traditional bullying. However, by understanding the differences, we can deal with cyberbullying more efficiently!

How can teenagers themselves become advocates for preventing cyberbullying on social media platforms?

Cyberbullying and teen social media
become advocates for preventing cyberbullying

If you’re a teenager who uses social media, you have a unique opportunity to help prevent cyberbullying. We know that cyberbullying can be hurtful and damaging, but by actively preventing it, you can make a real difference.

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Here are some steps that teenagers can take to become advocates for cyberbullying prevention:

1. Educate yourself.

First, you need to familiarize yourself with cyberbullying and how it can affect individuals. By understanding the issue, you can recognize and report cyberbullying effectively.

2. Speak up.

If you witness cyberbullying, do not stay silent! Speak up against it and make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable. By doing so, you are protecting the victim and sending a message that cyberbullying will not be tolerated.

3. Report the incident.

Social media platforms have reporting mechanisms in place to report instances of cyberbullying. Use these tools to report the incident and ensure the platform takes action against the perpetrator. Familiarize yourself with the reporting method on each platform.

4. Be a positive influence.

Use your social media to encourage positive and kind interactions. Share uplifting content, engage in constructive conversations, and show support to those in need. You can help build a safer and non-hostile online community.

5. Support the victims.

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Support the victims

If you encounter a victim of cyberbullying, offer your help and tell them that they are not alone. Help them to seek assistance from a trusted adult, a mental health professional, or an online support network.

6. Encourage responsible online behavior and promote healthy digital citizenship.

You can set an excellent example by yourself and educate your friends on the importance of being mindful of what they post online. Remind them to treat others how they would like to be treated and that everyone is responsible and accountable.

7. Join online campaigns and communities.

Try to join online campaigns and communities that promote cyberbullying prevention. By doing so, you can connect with like-minded people who share the same purpose of making social media safer and kinder. You can also learn from others new ways to deal with cyberbullying. In some cases, with training, you may be able to join online support networks that help with cyberbullying victims.

8. Screenshot and save cyberbullying evidence.

Whenever you encounter cyberbullying, we suggest that your print the evidence. Recording or screenshotting is also an option. This way, your report will be backed by clear evidence, resulting in quicker and more accurate enforcement. Make sure that you delete and destroy everything after the issue is resolved.

We are delighted to ask for your participation in our community that tries to raise awareness on this issue. Share our articles to educate others about cyberbullying and teen social media issues!

Shocking Facts about Cyberbullying on Teens

The chart above shows shocking statistics on the effect of cyberbullying. It significantly affects teenagers’ ability to learn, causing depression, anxiety, other mental conditions, and even causing physical damage! If you are cyberbullied, you are twice as likely to develop stomach aches, headaches, and other sicknesses.

Shocking Facts about Cyberbullying on Teens (sertakan chart di video) 
Facts about Cyberbullying

And the most shocking of all, cyberbullying causes suicidal thoughts. In fact, this staggering statistic shows us that 25% of teens who have been cyberbullied will engage in self-harm! The incredibly depressing data above tells us that we have to acknowledge that cyberbullying is a serious and real problem. We must act and do whatever is necessary to stop this type of behavior! 

Cyberbullying and its prevalence among teenagers 

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is becoming increasingly prevalent among teenagers because everyone nowadays uses social media. Based on a 2022 study conducted by the Pew Research Center,47% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 in the USA have experienced online harassment on social media platforms.

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Cyberbullying and its prevalence

The online abuse includes:

  • Hurtful name-calling.
  • False gossip and rumors.
  • Receiving unwanted explicit/NSFW images (cyber-flashing).
  • Threatening massages.
  • Spreading personal unflattering/explicit images without permission (including revenge porn).
  • Doxxing (spreading personal information without consent).
  • Constantly asking for personal information, online stalking.

Other abuses include deception and online impersonation, which is borderline cybercrime. 

The Pew Research study also stated that older teen girls are more likely to receive one of these online abuses. Cyberbullies target teenagers, likely due to their appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and political views. Ethnicity also factors in cyberbullying, whereas if you are a black teenager, you will be twice as likely to get abused online.

And if we are talking about global statistics, 60% of people using the internet may have been subjected to cyberbullying. Nowadays, at least 59% of the world’s population uses the internet, and 51% of them actively use social media. As a result, cyberbullying has become an expected behavior in today’s online landscape due to the sheer usage of social media platforms.

Role of social media platforms in cyberbullying incidents

The internet has given us so much, from easy access to information to endless entertainment options. But unfortunately, it also promotes cyberbullying, and teen social media has become more toxic than ever. With social media at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever for cyber bullies to harass and intimidate others.

And as we’re exposed to more and more of these types of behaviors, we may even unknowingly start to imitate them ourselves.

According to Security.org,  79% of kids on YouTube are cyberbullied, followed by Snapchat at 69%, TikTok at 64%, and Facebook at 49%. These data show the toxic reality of cyberbullying and teen social media platforms.


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Are there any legal consequences for individuals engaging in cyberbullying on social media?

Yes, in the USA, there are some legal consequences if you engage in cyberbullying! We’d like to mention that there is no specific federal law that covers cyberbullying. However, in some cases, cyberbullying may overlap with discriminatory harassment laws

Discrimination against specific race, national origin, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or religion, are covered under federal law. And if cyberbullying takes place inside federally-funded school, then the school have to resolve it.

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Every state has it own regulations when it comes to traditional bullying, and some states are increasingly recognizing and addressing the rise of cyberbullying. Most state laws require districts and schools to implement an anti-bullying policy.

Are there any legal consequences for individuals engaging in cyberbullying on social media
legal consequences in cyberbullying on social media

Moreover, US states can deal with cyberbullying and other related behaviors in their own state laws. In some places, bullying is covered in the criminal code of a state that applies to juveniles.

Some cyberbullying cases, especially the ones that overlap with harassment or defamation of character, may get settled within the civil court. Meanwhile, cyberbullying that borderline cybercrime, like fraud, distribution of child pornography, or hate crime, may result in criminal charges.

On a related note, congress enacted the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which mentions cyberbullying. However, we believe the government should do more to create regulations specifically addressing cyberbullying. 

Signs that a teenager may be experiencing cyberbullying

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Signs that a teenager may be experiencing cyberbullying

Here are some signs that a teenager may be experiencing cyberbullying:

  • Changes in temperament or mood, such as becoming withdrawn, anxious, or depressed.
  • Avoiding social activities or situations that they previously enjoyed.
  • Increased use of electronic devices, particularly late at night or early in the morning.
  • Suddenly stop or avoid using their devices or hide their online activity.
  • Being upset or angry after using their devices or receiving messages.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns and loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping.
  • The decline in academic performance or attendance.
  • Physical symptoms include headaches, stomach aches, or fatigue..
  • Changes in their social media behavior, such as deleting or blocking people or changing their profile picture or description.
  • Receiving threatening or offensive messages or comments.
  • Seeing negative or hurtful posts or comments about themselves or others.
  • Receiving unwanted or explicit messages or images.
  • Publishing social media posts that have a negative tone, sometimes cryptic.

However, we’d like to remind you that not all of these are proof that a teenager is a victim of cyberbullying. These are just early warning signs that need further investigation and communication.

Emotional and psychological effects 

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Emotional and psychological effects

Cyberbullying can have significant emotional and psychological effects on teenagers. Here are some of the possible effects:

  • Depression and anxiety: Cyberbullying can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety in teenagers. They may feel isolated, ashamed, and embarrassed by what is happening to them.
  • Low self-esteem: Cyberbullying can damage teenagers’ self-esteem and make them feel worthless or inadequate. They may start to doubt their capabilities and question their self-worth.
  • Social withdrawal: Cyberbullying can make teenagers feel like they don’t belong, and they may become socially isolated. They may stop enjoying activities they once loved.
  • Physical symptoms: Cyberbullying can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and difficulty sleeping. 
  • Anger and aggression: Cyberbullying can make teenagers feel angry and defensive. They may lash out at others or become aggressive in response to what is happening to them.
  • School performance: Cyberbullying can negatively affect a teenager’s school performance. They may have difficulty concentrating, miss classes, or even drop out altogether.

You can also look at our infographic above for more detailed effects of cyberbullying. In severe cases, cyberbullying may lead teenagers to develop suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and even actual suicide.

If you notice your kid or your friend (if you are a teenager yourself) have a change in behavior, as highlighted above, it is important to approach them immediately and carefully. 

How does the intersectionality of identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) impact the experience of cyberbullying on social media for teenagers?

Cyberbullying and teen social media
intersectionality of identity impact the experience of cyberbullying
  • Race and ethnicity: Teenagers from marginalized racial and ethnic groups may be more likely to experience cyberbullying. They may be targeted with racist slurs or stereotypes or be excluded from online communities based on their skin color.
  • Gender: Teenage girls are often the targets of cyberbullying based on their gender. They may be slut-shamed, body-shamed, or subjected to other forms of gender-based harassment. 
  • Sexual orientation: Teenagers identifying as LGBTQ+ may face cyberbullying based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They may be targeted with homophobic or transphobic comments or outed online without their consent.
  • Disability: Teenagers with disabilities may be more vulnerable to cyberbullying. They may be targeted with ableist comments or jokes or excluded from online communities based on their disability.
  • Socioeconomic status: Teenagers from low-income families may face cyberbullying based on socioeconomic status. They may be targeted with insults or stereotypes about poverty or financial insecurity.

Online support networks for cyberbullying victims

For those who are dealing with cyberbullying, you can use the following resources to get help!

  • Stomp Out Bullying: A nonprofit organization that provides help and resources for teens who have experienced cyberbullying. There are also help chat and crisis lines that you can contact for immediate help.
  • Cybersmile Foundation: A similar organization that provides thorough resources to deal with cyberbullying for teenagers. They also provide support from social media that can help you navigate this issue.
  • StopBullying.gov: A governmental website that addresses bullying as well as cyberbullying. You can find out how to contact the government office to deal with discriminatory harassment. It provides a thorough resource and learning materials related to cyberbullying.
  • Text-4-Help: For teenagers needing 24/7 support and help, text this service. It’ll help you locate a safe space in your local area and interact with their trained counselors.
  • Teen Line: If you need support, you can call, text, or email a trained teen listener from this organization. It provides many resources on what to do and listens to your problems, including cyberbullying.

If you need other online resources to can help you deal with cyberbullying in the USA, you can check the following directory.

What can parents do to mitigate cyberbullying on social media?

Now if you are a parent whose kid is a victim of cyberbullying, you may do some of these precautions:

  • Talk to your children: Have open and honest conversations about cyberbullying, what it is, and how to prevent it. Tell them that they can seek your help if they ever experience cyberbullying or witness it happening to someone else.
  • Set rules and guidelines: Establish rules and guidelines for social media use, including what apps or platforms your children can use, how long they can be online, and what types of content they are allowed to post or share.
  • Monitor their online activity: Monitor your children’s social media activity and check in with them regularly. Check for signs that we have discussed before because they may indicate cyberbullying.

Responsible social media use

Cyberbullying and teen social media
Responsible social media use

Here are some tips for responsible social media use:

  • Be mindful of the content you share: Consider how others might perceive it before posting anything on social media.
  • Respect others’ privacy: Avoid sharing personal information about others without their consent.
  • Think critically about the content you see: Not everything you encounter on social media is true.
  • Use social media as a tool for productivity: Social media is an effective tool for social justice and activism.
  • Take breaks when necessary: Social media can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful. 
  • Be kind and respectful: Treat others on social media with kindness and respect.
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By practicing responsible social media use, we can infect others with positivity and, by doing so, develop a respectful online environment for ourselves and others!

Building Resilience against Cyberbullying

Building resilience against cyberbullying is all about developing yourself mentally to cope with and overcome the adverse effects of cyberbullying. We can create a support network of friends, family, or professionals we trust. 

Cyberbullying and teen social media
against Cyberbullying

It’s also important to practice self-care, build self-esteem and confidence, and educate ourselves about cyberbullying. This can involve engaging in activities that bring us joy and relaxation, such as exercise and hobbies.

Are certain social media platforms more prone to cyberbullying incidents than others? If so, which ones and why? 

As we have explained before, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and TikTok are the top three places where cyberbullying can occur. Teenagers who post videos online may receive abuse from random commenters. However, other social media like Instagram and Twitter are also risky places, especially if teenagers set their profiles publicly. 

The lack of enforcement of rules against cyberbullying by the social media platform is very lacking. Most of the processes are often done by algorithm, and sometimes that’s not enough to address this highly emotional and humane issue.

Recaps

  • Cyberbullying and teen social media is a serious issue that affects many and can have negative emotional and psychological effects.
  • You can expect cyberbullying to happen on social media platforms
  • Cyberbullying is different and has a wider viral effect compared to traditional bullying.
  • There are steps that parents, educators, and teenagers themselves can take to prevent cyberbullying, promote responsible social media use, and build resilience.
  • Cyberbullying can take many forms, including harassment, impersonation, unwanted picture sharing, and many others.
  • There are many online resources to get help with cyberbullying-related problems for teenagers.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, cyberbullying is a real problem that affects many teenagers, and it’s often linked to social media use. We need to acknowledge the risks and take steps to prevent cyberbullying from happening. 

Educating ourselves and others, promoting responsible social media use, and building resilience against cyberbullying can create a safer and kinder online environment for everyone. Remember, we have the capabilities to create a difference, so let’s use it to end cyberbullying once and for all!


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are there any innovative technologies or tools available that can help detect and prevent cyberbullying on social media?

Yes, several innovative technologies and tools are available to help detect and prevent cyberbullying on social media. Some of these tools use machine learning algorithms or AI to scan for keywords and patterns that may indicate cyberbullying. Others use natural language processing to detect threatening language. Some platforms also have built-in reporting and blocking features.

How can schools collaborate with social media platforms to create safer online environments for their students?

Schools and social media can advocate for stronger policies of community standards around cyberbullying. They can also work with social media platforms to develop educational resources for students, teachers, and parents around responsible social media use and digital citizenship. Additionally, schools can partner with social media platforms to provide training and support to students who have experienced cyberbullying or other forms of online harm.

Can engaging in positive online activism or digital community-building help mitigate the risks of cyberbullying on social media?

Yes, it can help mitigate the risks of cyberbullying on teen social media. Activism can create a supportive and empowering online community. It can also raise awareness of cyberbullying and encourage other teenagers to take a stand against it.

Suzy Prichard

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