The Effects of Cyberbullying

Posted by Trevor Mickelson

Photo from Herald on Sunday story by Adam Forrest

If it wasn’t hard enough for high school students to fit in and avoid bullies at school, the Internet and various social media sites have made things a little more difficult. With very little parental control on sites like Facebook, students are finding new ways to bully their classmates.

Not only are students using new methods to bully others, but the severity of the bullying has increased as bullies are able to be more brutal in their attacks behind the mask of a computer. Even worse is that some students are creating phony pages and bullying students, while pretending to be someone else.

As a future teacher, I know there is no way to prevent students from bullying each other. I can try to prevent it in the classroom and hallways, but it is very unsettling knowing the lengths to which some students will go to ostracize a peer.

Now the question is what can be done to limit such bullying. As much as kids would protest, maybe it is time for parents to start creating their own accounts in order to monitor what their kids are doing online. Or maybe schools should intervene to prevent bullying between its students. What about the responsibility of the sites?

Recently my mom made the journey into the world of Facebook. Although I wasn’t fond of the idea, and still cringe every time I receive notice that she has commented on a photo, her presence does make me more aware of what is on my profile and in my photos. It makes you wonder if high school kids would think twice about bullying students if their own parents had profiles and were monitoring what was being said.

As for the schools, I’m not sure that there is anything they could or would do that would prevent students from bullying on social media sites. The article from the New York Times points out that many concerned parents have looked to the schools for help, only to be turned down. The school’s reason is that they don’t have the authority to get involved in these issues online.

The article also mentioned that some parents were looking to the sites for help in determining the author of phony pages set up to bully students. While this can be helpful, it can take a long time to figure out the culprit.

So the question remains, what is the best way to prevent cyberbullying? Should the responsibility be in the hands of the parents? The schools? Or maybe the social media sites should take responsibility?

8 responses to “The Effects of Cyberbullying

  1. Issues in social media are so difficult to monitor by schools and parents. Ultimately, the message that kids need to know (and college students for that matter) is too not take personally what is said on these sites. We’ve all heard of fights that have erupted over facebook interaction. People need to understand that anyone can say anything hidden behind a computer, so deal with it and don’t let it become such major issues.

    • trevormickelson

      You are right that social media sites are very hard to monitor by schools and parents so I’m not sure what the best way to deal with some of these issues is. However, to tell kids just to get over it is easier said than done, especially for kids in middle school and high school where the students are so concerned about their image and who their friends are. I imagine it would be pretty difficult for a student not to get upset about someone making a fake page in their name and then attacking other students with that page. In situations like these, I think there has to be some way for parents and teachers to help out and be involved.

  2. I wrote an op-ed piece for another class on this topic. I suggested that teachers join Facebook and “friend” their students simply to be a presence or a someone to go to online if cyber-bullying occurs. I’m not suggesting it become the teachers’ responsibility to monitor students, just to be there for them. It’s the same idea of having a teacher in the hallway between classes, only not as much direct responsibility.

    What’s your opinion on how teachers should/shouldn’t become involved?

    • trevormickelson

      I’m torn on the issue. I like the idea of teachers having facebook and monitoring some of what their students are saying. But I have a feeling that it would make a lot of parents uncomfortable. If that were the case though, I would hope that the parent would have their own Facebook page so they can monitor what is being posted. I never realized how big of a problem this is before this article and I’m surprised at some of the things that students will do on a computer.

  3. This really goes to show you why Facebook was to used only by college students in the first place. In high school I was constantly getting friend requests from middle school students and I wondered why they would possibly need to utilize a site like this.
    I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate for teachers to friend their students on Facebook, even if it is for monitoring purpose. There are certain factors of my life I don’t need teachers to know about. They don’t need to know who I hang out or who I’m dating, etc. I think it is more the responsibility of the parents. They already know intimate details about their children’s lives and anything else that they don’t want their parents seeing, probably shouldn’t be put in the public domain anyway.

    • trevormickelson

      I agree that this site is being misused by younger kids who don’t have any real need for it. My only suggestion would probably be to encourage teachers to have a profile and give students the option of befriending them with no consequences either way. Maybe this make students think twice about bullying someone online knowing that a teacher could potentially come across it. At the same time, it wouldn’t force students to be friends with their teacher. Either way, I agree with you that it is the parents primary duty and the responsibility should be in their hands.

  4. I also think it is more the responsibility of the parents. I think one of the major problems with that though is that parents don’t always know how to use social networking sites, so even if they did create a Facebook account, for example, their kids may have already found different ways to block their parents, censor certain things in their profiles or create new profiles that would make it harder for their parents to find them.

    Parents aren’t always on top of what is the latest social networking tool, anyway. I know some parents that still think Myspace is the “in” thing, even though, for my friends and I at least, we left Myspace behind in eighth grade.

  5. Bullying and ostracizing is just part of our society. We can try to regulate this issue as much as we can but the reality is it won’t go away. There are just some individuals who gain some sort of morbid pleasure in hurting others. Although maybe if more parents joined Facebook bullies would think first before they attacked. There would have to be a legit study to prove the theory, until then, it’s very hard for this topic to change.

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