The Era of Cyber-Bullying by Alex Lewis

Just one week ago at Palmerston North’s Freyberg High School, a 15 year old girl committed suicide due to cyber-bullying. Friends of Stephanie Garrett said that the young girl cried herself to sleep at night because of bullying on the internet. People on social networking sites had been calling Stephanie fat and that forced her to lose self-esteem and feel awful about herself. Before anyone could help Stephanie, it was too late. Unfortunately Stephanie isn’t the only teenager that faces cyber-bullying on a daily basis. According to recent studies, one out of every three teenagers is affected by cyber-bullying each year. Not only does cyber-bullying affect a teenager’s mental state, but it also affects their school performance.

Cyber-bullying has many mental effects on a student including anxiety, fear, depression, and self-esteem issues. As a teenager is being bullied online on social media, where all their friends can see, their self-esteem begins to decrease. This is a result from the bully verbally writing many hurtful things online which leads the victim to eventually believe these things are true. For example, if a girl is constantly being told she is fat and ugly and has no friends, she is going to believe that. When a teenager’s self-esteem decreases, they start to live their life in constant fear that they are going to be judged by others. Fear can eventually emerge into anxiety which can completely take control of a teenager’s mind. When a teen becomes anxious they are constantly living in fear of being attacked by bullies at any moment of the day. Self-esteem decreasing, anxiety, and fear all lead to one last mental effect which is depression. Depression leads a teenager to feel helpless and eventually can cause a person to commit suicide.

Cyber-bullying also has an effect on school performance. Class participation, test scores, and lower grades are just a few of the things that are affected. Class participation is affected because the student is afraid that one comment can lead to them being made fun of later online which will embarrass them even more. When a student is made fun of online by peers, there becomes lots of tension in the classroom environment. Unfortunately this tension in the classroom is left unsolved because the victim of cyber-bullying remains silent due to fear of comments that will be made.

Students can be the bully and the victim in a common cyber-bullying scenario. It is not unusual for a student to be the bully putting things online, but when the victim of the online discussion is a teacher there needs to be something done. Not only does cyber-bullying negatively affect students but when teachers and older individuals get brought in the situation it shows that cyber bullying is on a whole new level. Some argue that when students comment about a teacher or faculty member, good or bad, it is considered freedom of speech. I believe that it doesn’t matter about the age of the victim, if someone is being talked about negatively online, it should be considered cyber-bullying.

With today’s advancement in technology, cyber-bullying has become more and more of an epidemic. It is shocking how one out of every three teenagers has been affected by cyber-bullying, and the rate is constantly increasing. There is no way to possibly eliminate cyber-bullying completely from social media but it is important for teenagers to know the negative effects of it. The best way to reduce the rate of cyber-bullying in today’s world is to convince the students that there are ways to confront someone with their issue without putting them down online.



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