Cyber bullying is increasingly causing problems for today's teens. More than 43 percent of teens say they have been cyber bullied, and of those 43 percent, one in four have had it happen more than once, according to dosomething.org.
It is becoming easier and easier for teens to bully each other online due to the increased use of cellphones and social media. According to dosomething.org, cyber bullying is defined as a young person tormenting, threatening, harassing or embarrassing another young person using the internet or other technologies. This can be sending cruel text messages or emails, spreading rumors on social media, posting messages about a person that are mean and hurtful, hacking an account and sending messages, or spreading pictures through texts or the internet. Cyber bullying mainly takes place using text messaging, Facebook, Twitter or ask.fm.
Text bullying has become a problem because it is much easier for the bully than traditional bullying. This way, the bully never even has to see the victim, leading him/her to be crueler and harsher than they might be in person. It is also easier because the bullies think they can be anonymous. If the victim does not have the bully's phone number, the bully feels he/she is safe from being caught. However, the number and sender can be tracked, and the bully can face criminal charges.
Another issue with text bullying is the victim can get upset and send mean texts back in return. Therefore, they become a bully themselves. Nine out of 10 teenagers have phones, one in five teens will be victims of text bullying, and one in 10 teens will become a text bully, according to stopcyberbullying.org. Many mobile phone companies including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, now offer ways to stop cyber bullying, including parental controls, being able to block numbers or just getting a new number entirely.
Facebook has experienced a cyber bullying frenzy. Eighty-seven percent of teens who have been bullied online say it has been on Facebook. Bullies of Facebook aren't able to bully anonymously; however, the harm they cause is just as bad. Bullies may post a mean status about something, an embarrassing picture, etc. However most of the bullying is done over Facebook Messenger. Messenger was created as a way to talk to friends, but has now become a place for bullying. The bully can send a message to the victim and no one else can see it.
Emma-Jane Cross, CEO of BeatBullying reports, "Facebook is the worst social networking site for internet trolling. Bullying online is a serious problem for a huge number of teenagers, and we cannot ignore its often devastating and tragic events." For example, a 14 year old girl recently killed herself due to being bullied by two classmates on Facebook. In response to this, Facebook has taken action and made its site more helpful for victims of bullying. There is now a box one can check which reads, "Get help from an authority figure or trusted friend: Forward this post to someone who can help you in person." Facebook says about the Bullying Prevention Hub, "It will hopefully offer guidance to the person accused of bullying on what he or she has done and how he or she can do better." Facebook is still searching for other ways to prevent cyber bullying.
Ask.fm is a fairly new site; however, bullying became a problem right away. It is a question and answer site, similar to Formspring, that allows users to ask anonymous questions to friends and others.
This allows bullies to be cruel without ever being discovered, and able to seal their identities. Richard Piggin, deputy chief executive of BeatBullying comments about the site, "It is a bully's paradise. In cases like these young people need protection from those who exploit Internet anonymity to intimidate, isolate and bully."
This site has allegedly been linked to teen suicides, and the executives have tried to take action by not allowing anonymous questions. However, there are many ways around this block and bullies are still getting through.
With increased use of social media sites and other technologies, cyber bullying has become much more prevalent in our society.
Only one in 10 teens who have been cyber bullied have sought help from a parent or trusted adult. Teens should seriously consider the risks of these social networking sites before creating a profile. As soon as a problem develops, the issue needs to be brought to the attention of adults and stopped.
(Alyssa Clark is a 15-year-old sophomore at Petaluma High School. Her hobbies include playing soccer and running. She is interested in journalism because she likes to write about and take pictures of sports.)