How has Social Media Changed Bullying?

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying can occur in person (physically or verbally) or online (cyberbullying), and it can be direct or indirect (not explicitly aimed at the victim).

There is no doubt that bullying pre-dates social media, but it is evident that social media has drastically changed the way it occurs.

A 2015 survey by the Ditch the Label revealed that, of the teens who have experienced bullying, 62% were victims of cyberbullying, suggesting that the internet is now the primary channel for bullying to take place.

The introduction of the internet and social media has made bullying harder to escape and harder to identify. Specifically, social media increases the perceived distance between peers, and it enables bullies to de-personalise the victim because they are both behind screens.

Before the internet, bullying stopped when the victim, or perpetrator, removed themselves from that environment (which was usually school), but now, when teens are constantly connected, victims are left continuously vulnerable. Social media might not cause bullying, but it has certainly made escaping it far more difficult.

Of those who had been cyberbullied, 84%have been so via Facebook, 23% via Instagram, and 21% via Twitter, all of which are monitored by our cyber-safety software Online Them.

Online Them is a non-intrusive, consent-based parental monitoring tool which encourages and enables awareness of your child’s online activity through daily reports and real-time alerts, including high-risk words, adult content, who they are interacting with, mentions of crime, and more.

To help tackle cyberbullying, it is important both to instill self-awareness about bullying in children, and to encourage communication at home so that children know that it is nothing to be ashamed of discussing and that there is always support from parents, teachers, hotlines and charities.

Less than half of victims ever tell a parent about incidences of cyberbullying; ensure that you know what is going on, and open up lines of communication by signing up to Online Them today.

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