The time that existed five years back was totally different than the time that exists today. Earlier the teenagers only had ‘offline’ peer pressure to deal with. However, there has been an addition to this since the time the internet started seeping in, in every life. Today, there is a pressure among the teenagers to be liked ‘online’ as well. This has given birth to cyberbullying.
Social networking apps these days have become easily accessible to all. One just needs to download the app, make an account and get started. Everyone these days run behind attracting a large number of followers and likes. For achieving this they are ready to do almost anything.
Cyberbullying starts when a picture or opinion you put up receives negative comments and reactions. The term, though sounds simple like any other regular term, is a concern that needs to be dealt with effectively.
Cyberbullying can occur where there is a phone and internet connectivity. Also known as Online Bullying or Internet Bullying, Cyberbullying is a form of bullying where technology is used to send across hate messages, mean jokes, threats, embarrassing and inappropriate images, aggressive and rude texts, with the motive of hurting, harassing, or upsetting someone else.
Today one out of three school going teenagers fall prey to cyberbullying. This leads to immense stress, negativity, fear, insecurity, self doubt, loss of confidence, anxiety, depression and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts and completed suicides.
Teenagers have started getting their own individual phones at a very early age of 11-12 by parents. The reasons stated by the parents is that their kids travel to far off places in the city for tutions and classes. Giving them a phone makes it easy for them to communicate with their children. However, this has resulted in children getting addicted to phones and thus falling prey to cyberbullying.
As of 2018, India had the highest rate of teenage cyberbullying victims. Over 37% of parents admitted that their children went through cyberbullying at least once.
The usage of phones and internet has risen to such levels that it is now difficult to ask the kids to get off from the internet. Nevertheless, we can keep a check on cyberbullying. Many schools and other educational institutes have initiated steps to keep a check on cyberbullying. One of the most simplest ways adopted by schools for curbing cyberbullying is that the teachers have started making an online presence.
They have started connecting with students on various social media platforms. This way, the level of cyberbullying comes down as students become alert and hold some fear of being punished for harassing their peers online.
There are other most common and effective ways adopted by the schools.
Teaching students good digital ethics
Education starts at school. With everything shifting online, teenagers must be educated about digital ethics at school level itself. It is very important to make teenagers understand the difference between good and bad of the internet world. Teenagers must be taught how to behave and conduct themselves on the internet. By doing this, the prospective cyber bullies and victims will be killed at the grassroot level itself.
Raise awareness and not ban internet usage
Banning teenagers from using digital gadgets is not the solution. This will just push them to use it by adopting incorrect ways. Rather, raise awareness. Make the teenagers realise that they can put technology to good use, instead of indulging in foul activities.
Teach to raise voice against cyberbullying
Cyberbullying victims usually shy away from talking about it with their parents, teachers, or even friends due to fear and embarrassment. Teenagers need to be explained the importance of coming forward and reporting cyberbullying, and the negative impacts of not doing so. Teachers and parents need to create a free space for the teenagers to comfortably share their problems. The school authorities must also urge the students to raise their voice if they witness a peer of theirs being bullied by a bully.
Cyberbullying is growing rampantly among teenagers day by day. It should be tackled carefully to help teenagers feel safe online. This can only happen when each one of us takes a step forward in the direction of raising our voice against a cyberbully. Remember, the change begins with us.