Cyberbullying and Social Media

The birth of social media has brought many wonderful things to our society such as connecting us with loved ones and meeting new friends.  Unfortunately, some have taken advantage of this system.  Cyberbullying is a true horror that has come to light in the past years.  Users of social networks have used the sites in order to target people and attack them because of their race, religion, or sexuality.  Regrettably, this form of bullying has entered school systems.  I propose a way to provide schools a way to monitor their students’ online activity to make sure they are not partaking in cyberbullying.  My program will also sponsor school that take an initiative in teaching their students about the harmful effects of cyberbullying.  Through this program, schools will have the opportunity to reward their students for good behavior and safe activity online.  Hopefully this program will help to create a generation of Internet users who are conscious of the negative effects social media can have on others.

Every once in a while there is a story featured on the nightly news about a student, usually in high school that has been bullied so much that they feel the only way out is to kill themselves.  Many of these students were not bullied just in their schools, but in the privacy of their own home.  This is thanks to cyberbullying.  The victims would go home and log on to their computers only to find hate.  In multiple cases, the students were being bullied because of their sexuality.  Many of us remember the story of Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers.  He “threw himself from the George Washington Bridge in New York City.  His roommate had secretly recorded a video of Clementi kissing a guy; the video went up on YouTube. On Facebook, Clementi offered a final status update: ‘jumping off GW bridge sorry’” (Cloud).  This is just one of many unfortunate stories of cyberbullying at its worst.

“The trouble is, the technology of bullying has advanced much faster than efforts to stop it ever could. If you have a cell phone, you can post to your entire school that a girl is a slut or a boy is a fag–and you can attach an unflattering photo or video of them to try to prove it” (Cloud).  Being bullied is not pleasant whatsoever.  Years ago the victims of bullying could escape to their own homes and be safe.  That is no longer the case.  Technology has made it easier for the bullies to attack their victims without being in the same room or even the same street.  Social media has, unfortunately, become a means for bullies to gang up on someone and never make contact.  “The word cyberbullying didn’t even exist a decade ago, yet the problem is pervasive today. Simply put, cyberbullying is the repeated use of technology to harass, humiliate, or threaten. When people take to the keyboard or cell phone and craft messages of hate or malice about a specific person, cyberbullying is emerging. And unlike traditional bullying, it comes with a wide audience” (Holladay).  I have seen people make groups on Facebook just to get together and talk smack on one individual.  That is truly horrendous.

My goal it to stop cyberbullying before it even becomes a problem.  I want to create a program that will be put into place in elementary and middle schools.  This program will help to educate young children about the horrors of bullying, both physical and cyber, to help them learn how to treat one another.  Eventually the students will be able to use a social network site that will help them learn safe practices online and how to identify what is bullying and how it can effect others.

First, I will test the program in a school district that has had its share of issues with cyberbullying in the past.  I would prefer to implement my program in a middle school setting.  This is to help educate the students in the earlier stages of their schooling and help to influence the younger generations to change before they are set in their ways.  I also feel that kids can be crueler in a middle school setting.  This is, unfortunately, from past experience.  My middle school years were full of people who I thought of as friends, when in reality, I should have stayed away from them.  My goal is to help these students to realize what an impact their words and actions have before they get out of hand.  My program, as stated before, has multiple parts: educating, monitoring, and finally rewarding.  The first step is obviously educating.  The students need to learn how their actions online can affect others before they are rewarded.  I would use multiple resources such as guest speakers, online materials, and videos to help teach these kids about the dangers of cyberbullying.

The next step is monitoring.  This would require some more preparation.  I would like to create a website that acts as a personalized social media site for each school.  The students in the class would already be friends and able to talk to each other as well as post pictures and video.  The students will be encouraged to use this site in their free time.  The teachers would be able to monitor all activity on the site to make sure that the students are being safe and not bullying each other.

This brings us to the last step of rewarding.  Through the site, the teachers will be able to reward students for their work in the classroom.  The students in turn are allowed to make comments on the rewards, but only in an encouraging manner, all negative comments will be removed immediately.  This would help the students to learn to inspire each other rather than to tear each other down.  The class would also be rewarded for various things from the site for example, if each person comments on 10 rewards then the class would have an extra recess one day.

Through this program I hope to stop the spread of cyberbullying before it has drastic consequences in later years.  I believe with education and practice, students will be able to be safe online and not contribute to cyberbullying.  One day, I hope that cyberbullying is no longer a problem in our society and students can focus on their studies and not worry about being afraid to walk down the halls of their school or log onto their Facebook accounts.

 

 

Works Cited

Cloud, John. “Bullied To Death?.” Time 176.16 (2010): 60-63. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.

 

Holladay, Jennifer. “Cyberbullying.” Education Digest 76.5 (2011): 4-9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.

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