The Cyberbullying Epidemic

The Cyberbullying Epidemic

The concept of bullying has hit the internet. With the growing popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Formspring, the concept of bullying has been re-imagined. Because the ability to interact with others has increased, teens are using these sites to anonymously harass classmates and take what would seem like  meaningless rumours viral. In this way, cyberbullying is most definitely a product of the internet.

With that said, I think that the effects of cyberbullying are more dangerous than the positives of having children on the internet. However, this afternoon I came across an article about how the effects of cyberbullying have been exacerbated. This is interesting to me but not far fetched. Over the last year the media’s portrayal of the effects of social networking on bullying has increased exponentially. From the well publicized Tyler Clementi case to cases of teens committing suicide due to their reputations being tarnished on the web, it’s no wonder that we all think we have an epidemic on our hands.

This could very well be because the definition of bullying on its own, without the internet is so broad that when the internet is brought in, the definition becomes even vaguer. In general people understand what cyberbullying is, but no one really knows how to define it. According to the stopbullying.gov website, cyberbullying is bullying that takes place on the internet and bullying in this case is defined as unwanted agressive behavior.

It’s hard to take this definition and transfer it seamlessly to the internet. This is mostly because bullies on the internet are hard to track, the behavior is hard to pinpoint because of the viral nature of information that is on the web. With all this said, I wonder about two questions: One, can cyberbullying be called an epidemic and two, can it be stopped?

While, I don’t have a concrete idea of what the answer could be, I have some ideas. I don’t think cyberbullying is an epidemic, I think that it is a problem that is probably greater than regular bullying but the attention it receives because it’s on the internet makes it seem much worse than it is. Second, it can be stopped. Just like schools, parents and the government have intervened with regular bullying, they can do the same with cyberbullying.

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