A recent study from security software firm McAfee shared valuable information about the extent of cyberbullying that is taking place in the United States (US). The study, titled “2014 Teens and the Screen” included interviews of 1,502 youth aged 10 to 18. The McAfee study showed that 87 percent of teenagers have witnessed cyberbullying in the present year as compared to 27 percent teenagers who had witnessed it in 2013.
The intention behind the study was described in a press release by McAfee Chief Privacy Officer Michelle Dennedy in the following words: “By uncovering our youth’s online behaviors and activities, parents, guardians, teachers and coaches can be more aware of cruel behavior that can potentially take place offline.”
The grave consequences of cyberbullying are staring us right in the face and the intensity of the problem can be gauged from the fact that almost 300,000 tweets and 1.8 million Facebook posts are added by people every minute each day. These figures are not extraordinary keeping in mind that the young generation was born in a digital world where all kinds of gadgets are accessible to them all around the clock. So, how to prevent cyberbullying online in the digital age?
The Crux of the Problem
The McAfee study asked different questions from the youth regarding cyberbullying. According to the statistics 72 percent of children said they had experienced cyberbullying due to their appearance, 26 percent were bullied online because of race and religion, while 22 percent said they were targeted for their sexuality.
More detail contained in the study indicated that the effects of cyberbullying also trickled down to the physical world. From among the young respondents 50 percent said they got into an argument with a peer because of something posted on social media, while four percent said that cyberbullying does indeed lead to physical arguments. The impact of cyberbullying in the real world is ugly at best.
Taking Precautionary Measures
Cyberbullying in schools is regarded as something that falls in the category of deviant behavior. This practice is also frowned upon outside educational institutions. Per the results of the MacAfee study 53 percent of respondents said that they had seen victims of online bullying reacting in a defensive or angry manner, while 47 percent said that the victims also reacted by deleting their social media accounts.
Usually kids are advised by responsible adults that they should save all online evidence (including conversations, pictures etc) related to cyberbullying in case they want to show it as a proof to other adults and put an end to their miseries.
In addition to this, most adults would also suggest to youngsters that they leave the site where online bullying is happening. It is even better for kids to block the bully or delete them completely from their social media profiles.
Yet again, the role of parents in monitoring the online activities of their children is the most important thing in dealing with cyberbullying. Parents should keep computers and mobile phones away from the kids’ room and set down strict rules regarding the use of gadgets at home.
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