What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the act of harassing or intimidating someone using social media. The harassment and intimidation can be subtle, or it can be blatant, such as "in your face" derogatory name-calling. Cyberbullying can be done by anyone who wants to bring hurt, shame and humiliation to someone else through the use of social media platforms. Even though all ages and genders of people can be cyberbullied, I will target my article to teenage girls, because they seem to be the most vulnerable and preyed upon.
Cyberbullying and Teenage Girls
Most teenage girls want to hang out with their friends and have fun. However, sometimes their hormones may kick in and they began to show strong interest in boys. Unfortunately, to keep a boy's interest, they may send inappropriate "private" pictures to him. The usual sequence of events is a break up follows, the teenage girl starts seeing another guy and the rejected boy seeks revenge against her. How does he do this? Usually by sharing those so-called "private" pictures on social media with just about everyone in an attempt to humiliate he and ruin her reputation. This form of cyberbullying happens quite often. The problem continues because many teenage girls share inappropriate pictures online often, thinking that cyberbullying will not happen to them. Many are in for a big surprise when they are faced with cyberbullying.
The Emotions of Teenage Girls
When a young girl reaches her teen years, she is discovering who she is. In fact, it is during these years that self-awareness is just budding as the teenager is in the middle of adolescence and at the crest of adulthood.
At this stage of her life, the need for acceptance by her friends is very high -- so much so that many times she participates in activities she knows is wrong or inappropriate. The urge to be accepted and to belong to a certain crowd or to imitate others is called "peer pressure." For example, maybe her best friend sends inappropriate pictures to her boyfriend and does not see it as a problem. The teenage girl may soon follow suit since her best friend is already doing this.
How to Fight Cyberbullying
Teenage girls' initial steps to fight cyberbullying include realizing they are indeed being cyberbullied. Many teenage girls are aware of cyberbullying but may not recognize it when they are in the midst of it. Maybe they think the cyberbully is merely someone mad at them and the harassment will stop if they ignore it or if enough time passes. However, oftentimes the opposite becomes true and the cyberbullying instead accelerates in intensity and harm.
Parents Need to Get Involved
Parents need to get more involved with the social media aspects of their teenage daughter's life and talk to her beforehand about the dangers of being cyberbullied. They should educate their daughter on cyberbullying so hopefully, she does not become a victim.
Parents being left out of helping with cyberbulling may not be of their doing. They may have been pushed aside by their cybullied daughter. Many may not confide in their parents or divulge to their best friend that they are being cyberbullied. Maybe they feel they will be judged harshly, or they simply may feel embarrassed to have put themselves in this situation. In other words, somehow, they may come to blame themselves and simply do not want their parents to find out. Hiding cyberbullying from parents is one of the worst avenues to take since the teenager's parents are almost always their most staunch supporters.
Teenage Girls Think They Can Handle Cyberbullying Alone
The teenage girl may think that she can handle cyberbullying on her own which, unfortunately, is almost never the case. As a teenager, she has not developed coping skills to deal with cyberbullying. Therefore, at the first hint that a teenage girl is being cyberbullied, she should talk to and seek help from her parents, siblings, teachers, school officials and others.
Teenage girls are known for sometimes not wanting to talk about something that bothers them and to isolate themselves from others. The reason for becoming withdrawn may not be truthfully and immediately told to loved ones or those who care about them. Maybe the teenage girl pretends that she is not feeling well as an excuse to lock herself in her room. Or maybe she becomes unusually quiet and does not talk as much as she normally does.
Parents may brush this off as her just being a teenager and think that she will snap out of it eventually. However, a hands-off approach should not be used when a teenage girl is being cyberbullied. In fact, it's the worst approach to take, because the teenager will be left alone to deal with the pain of being cyberbullied with no one to support and help her. She may also feel a sense of desperation that there is no one she can turn to in her time of need.
Professional Help May be Needed
Once the parents, school officials and others know the teenage girl is being cyberbullied, they may think they can provide the proper help needed. However, sometimes it may take the help of a professional trained specifically in this area to assist the teenage girl to emotionally deal with what is happening. Of course parents will love and care for their teenage daughter while going through this difficult time, but the professional will be able to help the teenager deal with what is happening in her life emotionally.
Direct Message to Teenage Girls On Social Media
- Being a teenager can be challenging, especially in these times of social media usage. When using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok and others, be careful. Do not put yourself in a position to possibly become a victim of cyberbullying.
- Use social media responsibly when posting pictures. Do not post pictures that could possibly be changed, altered or misrepresented. For example, be careful when posting pictures of yourself in a bikini that can be altered to look as if you are posing nude. With the abundance of applications that can be used to alter photographs -- the picture doesn't have to actually be you in order for you to be cyberbullied. The world of social media can be scary place given its capabilities. For example, a cyberbully could photoshop your face on top of an unclothed picture of someone and swear strongly that it is you.
- If you are cyberbullied, delete your social media accounts and start over, being sure to set the correct privacy settings so the bully will not be able to contact you. You may think this is a lot of work to do, but if the cyberbully cannot get in contact with you, he or she loses the satisfaction of basking in your embarrassment.
- When cyberbullied, do not fold within yourself and withdraw from everyone who cares about you. Instead immediately seek and reach out quickly to your parents, school officials, and others. Do not procrastinate when the cyberbullying starts because it will probably get worse if you try to ignore it.
- If you inadvertently slip and post something that you should not have on social media, delete it immediately. Most importantly, get up, dust yourself off, and start over. You may make mistakes, but what counts is that you learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.
The world of social media can be a scary place given its capabilities.
Teenage Girls' Resilience Against Cyberbullying
Teenage girls should know and be aware of the fact that no one deserves to be cyberbullied. To be the victim of cyberbullying is wrong and no one should have to suffer through it. Do not let the cyberbullying persist and have a life of its own. It's important to handle and solve the problem of cyberbullying quickly so the teenage girl can enjoy being a teenager.
Remember, if teenagers allow someone to have the power to cyberbully them -- they are giving them carte blanche power to control their lives. Teenage girls must stay strong as well as resilient and not let the cyberbullies win.