Cyberbullying is a very common issue that has spanned as long as social media has been around. According to “Cyberbullying Via Social Media” by Elizabeth Whittaker and Robin Kowalski, in the past decade, there has been an uprise of cyberbullying which occurs through the use of electronic communication technologies such as email, instant messaging, social media, online gaming or through digital messages or images sent to a cellular phone. It occurs among individuals who have a strong power imbalance. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying is the act of mental aggression intended to cause harm or distress. What are the emotional effects and consequences of cyberbullying among youths? The increased use of social media among youths has led to many negative effects such as depression, anxiety, suicide, agression, and post-traumatic stress as a result of cyberbullying. So therefore, a prototype such as “Reflective Interface” and designing tools to help create positivity online are solutions to help reduce cyberbullying on social media.
Depression and anxiety are two of the main effects of cyberbullying. “Psychological, Physical, and Academic Correlates of Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying” states, researchers have recognized that depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem may be both consequences to bullying. Meaning, children who are bullied may be more likely than others to develop problems with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. When children are put in an environment of negativity, their mental health will decrease significantly. After developing depression and or anxiety, they avoid attending school, receive lower grades and lower testing scores. Children who bully others are also at a higher risk of health and academic problems. When a teen develops depression or anxiety, it puts their life on hold. Children aren't able to carry out their full potential in life and feel they are not worthy of anything anymore. Depression and anxiety then leads to an even more serious problem called suicidal thoughts.
Cyberbullying is one of the main leading causes of suicide. According to “Why Do Adults Engage In Cyberbullying On Social Media?”, worldwide media reported on the case of Megan, a 13-year-old who was cyberbullied on social media by a “cute boy” named Josh she had met online. The two had an intense online friendship that ended poorly, with Josh calling Megan a “liar and slut.” His last message to Megan was “You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.” The next day, Megan committed suicide. Social media is a very dangerous place. For example, the twist to this story was that Josh was not a teenage boy, but an adult female, Lori, who was married with children, had no criminal record, and ran a successful advertising business. She told police she had intended to “mess with Megan” because Megan had a falling out with her daughter, Sarah. One may never know who or what they are talking to. On social media, people can be whoever they want.
Children who have been or are being bullied tend to have very aggressive tendencies towards themselves or others. According to 'Problem behaviors, traditional bullying and cyberbullying among adolescents: Longitudinal analyses', cyberbullying victimization is significantly and positively related to school problems such as staying away from school on purpose, cheating on an exam or being sent home for poor behavior, shoplifting, carrying a weapon, and running away from home. Both traditional and online victimization can also be associated with stealing, vandalism, getting in trouble with the police, fighting and substance use. Being bullied causes very negative effects on children. As stated before, bullying can cause children to completely throw away their lives, literally and figuratively.
When mental disorders such as depression and anxiety do not get treated, children can develop an even worse condition called post traumatic stress disorder. Bridget Christine McHugh, Pamela Wiśniewski, Mary Beth Rosson and John M. Carroll created a study conducting an “in-situ” two-month long diary study, which asked 75 teens to report their online risk experiences. First, they measured teens’ online risk experiences over a two-month period, as opposed to traditionally used cross-sectional approaches. Second, their diary prompts differentiated between four distinct types of online risks: information breaches, explicit content exposure, cyberbullying and sexual solicitations and then they identified the distinct differences regarding their effects. Third, when a teen reported experiencing an online risk event, they asked follow-up questions regarding how teens coped with each experience. The study confirmed that explicit content exposure, cyberbullying evoked symptoms of PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a very serious problem for people who face really traumatic experiences in their lifetime. It is very common for soldiers to have PTSD. The fact that children are experiencing PTSD from bullying is unbelievable.
A solution to stop cyberbullying among youths is a prototype called “The Reflective Interface”. The reflective interface encourages positive digital behavioral norms and consists of the following interactions in order to scare off hurtful behavior: notifications, action delays, displaying hidden consequences, system-suggested flagging, and interactive education. When these are added to children's computers, they will be less likely to receive or send and hurtful messages. Another solution is designing tools to help create well-being on social media. For example, the application “You’re Valued” searches Twitter for tweets that say “nobody likes me” and then sends a response tweet with messages like “I like you”, “You’re valued”, or “You matter”. Teens tend to write about how they feel on social media by saying “I want to die” or “Nobody would care if I was gone” and people will respond back with “You should just kill yourself” or “You are right”. When teens post about how they are feeling, tools that we design to detect negativity will reply positive comments, as stated above. In doing this, teens will feel like they are not alone and feel people actually want them in this world.
According to “Social Media and The Movement of Ideas”, communication and connection tools can be altered in anyway by anyone, rather than by the owner of the account. Because social media such as Twitter and Facebook have no editors, anything can be said at anytime, creating more and more issues. With these tools to help block negativity and give positivity, there is a chance that cyberbullying will slowly be reduced. Cyberbullying is an issue that can never actually be stopped but these solutions are a big step in the right direction.