The influence of social media bullying on today’s children and youth is undeniable. If you happen to be a regular browser of the internet, you might come across the abbreviation (IRL) i.e. in real life. This indicates that today’s internet users have to make reference, as to which life they are talking about, the virtual or the “real”. Being online as well as having accounts on social media websites, creates a form of virtual life. It makes communication easier but also represents a threat as this virtual life can be harmed or manipulated by other online users. And you need to learn more about social media bullying.

Cyberbullying became the term used while addressing the issue of bullying people (especially school children) online. It spread with such intensity over the course of the past few years. It is dangerous because it is harder to catch than physical bullying and because it does not know physical boundaries.  As more and more children log online to do homework or connect with each other after school, it makes access to other people a lot easier as it expands the “space” to where a child can be bullied beyond school and into their homes.

In the case of cyberbullying and social media bullying, often children do not report these incidences so as not to have their internet privileges taken away. The cyberbullies themselves are victims of other forms of pressure or insecurities. They could be cyberbullying someone for their parents’ or friends’ mere attention. This further indicates that the issue needs to be addressed. As attention needs to be drawn to the bully as well and whether they need professional help or not.

Forms of Cyberbullying in Social Media

A child can be cyberbullied through different methods. One of which is social media bullying, one of the most common ways of Cyberbullying is done through promoting hate speech. Mockery of the child’s race, ethnicity, physical features or religion is always an easy way to make the child feel uncomfortable. This happens mostly on social media websites (like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace…..) where other children can view the mockery and take part in the bullying process. Effects of such behaviour are very obvious on the child being bullied. They suffer low self-esteem, tend to skip school more often and may turn into introverts as a reaction to feeling insecure or as a defence mechanism.

Another form of Cyberbullying and social media bullying is impersonation. This means that your child doesn’t even need to have an online persona to be cyberbullied.

These types of online harassment should not be addressed lightly. In a recorded severe case, Cyberbullying has led a 13-year-old girl to commit suicide. It has also caused Rebecca Marino a professional tennis player – who was ranked 38 on the WTA singles ranking – to quit playing tennis professionally.

How parents and teachers can help with Social Media Bullying

Children who are being cyberbullied often show signs of depression, introversion, anti-social behaviour or stress. Parents should be able to tell if there is a change in their child’s character or behaviour. They can also monitor their child’s online activity and notice if something is going wrong.

Teachers should watch out for social media bullying signs and report to the parents any cases of bullying that they might see in school or online. This would help the parents with their process of stopping the bullying their child is being subjected to.