Bullying has always been a problem. Discrimination against an individual is not a recent development within our societies. However, the traditional methods that many parents may have once been a victim to are no longer the norm.
As technology has evolved so has bullying. Social media is the biggest disrupter of traditional relationships that society has ever faced. Whilst the benefits of constant and global connectivity are countless, the potential risks and opportunities for bullying that now present themselves are also vast.
Body image is now a major aspect of young children’s lives. Networks such as Instagram and Snapchat encourage children to chase and portray an impossibly perfect appearance and lifestyle. Negative comments can rapidly spread, becoming viral and encouraging others to join in. Some of the more extreme and tragic ramifications of abuse on social media have been well documented in the news, and studies have shown a correlation between social media use and depression amongst children and teens. The difficulty for both parents and schools lies in the fact that the bullying that once took place in the playground is now either replaced or subsidised by verbal abuse in the unseen digital word
The issue of internet safety amongst children is one of frequent media attention, and rightly so. Governments doing more to ensure that businesses such as Facebook and Twitter are doing their best to tackle the dangers that their networks inadvertently create and foster (https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/29/uk-eyeing-fines-for-social-media-content-moderation-failures/). Just as it is now more important than ever for children to be educated on how to be safe online, cyber-bullying must be prioritised both in the classroom and at home. Recent tragedies in the UK show that divisions in our society are becoming more and more of an issue than ever before. And whilst bullying and radicalisation are different, both aim to divide different groups or individuals. Encouraging children to behave respectfully to one another in the digital world, will hopefully have real-life repercussions further down the line. Now more than ever, respect and kind words are needed in today’s turbulent society.