Weekly Feature

2016-12-07 / Editorial

Social media involved in widespread cyberbullying

The trend may not be immediately visible to the naked eye, but the impact it continues to leave in its wake has been tangible.

Cyberbullying, or peer-to-peer abuse or harassment online, is an issue that continues to drastically affect youth throughout the country, and Western New York is no exception.

A new study conducted by the Siena College Research Institute, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation finds that about one in five teens in Western New York have been cyberbullied and more than half of area teens have witnessed it being done to others.

Nationally, the Cyberbullying Research Center, which is dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents, finds that about 21 percent of teens have been cyberbullied and about 15 percent admitted to cyberbullying others at some point in their lifetimes.

Based on the center’s research, it further concludes that:

Cyberbullying is related to low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide, anger, frustration and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems.

Cyberbullying is related to other issues in the ‘real world’ including school problems, anti-social behavior, substance use and delinquency.

Traditional bullying and cyberbullying are closely related: Those who are bullied at school are bullied online, and those who bully at school bully online

The trend presents a worrying dilemma for a generation of students that spends an increasing amount of their free time socializing online. The Cyberbullying Research Center collected data from about 450 students at one middle school (ages ranged from 11 to 14) in the Midwest. The results revealed that 97.5 percent of respondents had been online in the previous 30 days, 63 percent owned a smartphone, 42 percent regularly use Instagram and 33 percent use Facebook.

For Western New York teens, online activity is a major part of everyday life, according to the recent study conducted by the Siena Research Institute. Roughly 79 percent are online at least an hour a day socializing with their friends.

If as parents and educators we are to quell the surge in cyberbullying statistics, an effort must be made to lessen the time that youths spend online. Additionally, education must ensue that teaches them the many negative ramifications that can result from ridiculing the differences that make us unique, rather than embracing them.

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