There has been frequent news about cyberbullying in Singapore and other countries. Name calling, rumour spreading, unpleasant images and personal information being spread online by students and adults about other people that they do not share a good relationship with are some types of cyberbullying (Lin, 2020). While these incidents may start as a “joke” among friends, they cause a lasting impact on the individual. According to a global study, children in Singapore are at a higher risk of being bullied online and they affect children as young as eight years old (Youjin, 2020). What causes cyber bullying and how do we stop it, then?
Causes of cyberbullying
Having access to smartphones at a young age but not being given guidance on the type of information to be shared online, knowing how to prevent social media addiction and separating reality and virtual life increases the risk of children being cyberbullied or being the bullies themselves. Social media platforms become a way for youth to compete among themselves to see who is popular based on the number of followers or likes they receive for their posts. Such comparisons result in children expressing their emotions about another person through social media platforms during misunderstandings, so they gain more attention from followers and feel that they have power. These situations do not solve the problem either. Instead of communicating what made them feel uncomfortable, commenting about an individual through social media platforms result in other people ostracizing that individual. This action results in the affected person not being able to interact with others normally and experiencing a decrease in their quality of life.
Are we the bullies?
There are times where social media becomes a platform for us to express our emotions. While it helps us feel better, it also helps up to know if there are other people who also feel the same way as us. But, do we get carried away with what we share? Using the term “rant”, how far do we go with sharing our views or opinions when it concerns someone?
Look through the checklist below to see if you may be a cyberbully:
- Have you used someone else’s picture and name and created an account online?
- Have you spread information about someone by posting online?
- Have you teased someone online?
- Have you posted pictures of a person on your social media account without their permission?
- Have you been honest about your identity online when communicating or sharing information with others?
- Have you intentionally hurt someone with a comment?
What should we do?
If we have a misunderstanding with someone, it would be good to talk to the person and let them know how their action or what they said made us feel. This way, if there were things about the situation that we were not aware of or if we misinterpreted what they meant, the misunderstanding would be resolved instead of having to shame someone online. Expressing to someone how they made us feel also helps to improve our communication while resolving the issue effectively. By sharing information about an individual online, it not only tarnishes their image, it prevents us from resolving the problem effectively. Everybody comes from different walks of life and face different challenges daily. If we could empathise with each other, solving conflicts would be more effective and we will be able to understand each other better.
Lin, O. (2020). Cyber bullying is a growing danger in S’pore & you should be concerned about it. Retrieved from https://mothership.sg/2020/04/cyber-bullying-singapore
Youjin, L. (2020). Global study warns of ‘cyber pandemic’ among children; biggest risk for S’porean kids is cyber bullying. Retrieved from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/global-study-warns-cyber-pandemic-among-children-biggest-risk-sporean-kids-cyberbullying