Among the websites and apps that witness a wide number of users today are TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. These sites have their large followings cutting across different age groups that include young adults, teens, and children. As they currently are, these apps are seen to impact the users negatively. This is because they have been identified as centers of bullying, and shame. On contrary, they are potentially meant to be the avenues of creativity, education, and social privileges.
Cyberbullying has been going on since the time social media was introduced. It is the act of bullying, threatening, or intimidating someone through an electronic device. This act is differentiated from in-person bullying due to its main characteristics which are, abusers being able to hide their identity which can result in harsher torment that lasts for long. Social media bullying is more public because it can be visible to many people, unlike the traditional one which only involves the direct participants. Cyberbullying can have a more permanent impact as online information can never be deleted, thus posing potential permanent damage to the reputation of both the bully and the victim.
Body shaming which involves giving negative comments about the appearance of someone else body is the common type of cyberbullying. It can happen in all forms of social media. Though it is very normal and common for people to experience shame or self-doubt at times, this experience can be made constant or devastating by body shaming. A survey on Girls’ Attitude (2016) found that 47 percent of girls aged 11-21 said that they are held back and limited in what they can do by how they look. Sadly, most of them confessed that body shaming has become their daily experience. 94 percent of the respondent who was teenage girls admitted to having been body shamed, while 57 percent aged 12-20 felt that their bullying was attributed to their appearance.
Repeated bullying can be traumatic in the life of a child. It can also cause numerous permanent effects on a person’s life, affecting their physical, emotional, psychological, educational, behavioral, social, and economic health. Studies have shown that there are relationships between bullying and the signs of post-traumatic stress because adults who were victims of the same at a young age reported having been bullied later in their life. 57 percent of the victims had symptoms that were enough to be classified as a trauma experience.
Social media is not all about evil as there are numerous benefits associated with the apps and the websites being witnessed all over. For instance, TikTok, which has more than 800 million followers acts as a platform where users can comfortably express themselves by sharing their own experiences and creations. The young people, who can’t find their comfort in schools, or even at home, in most cases, find their place here. These sites also act as areas where friendships are made without meeting physically. Each of the apps has attractive components that bring their users back every time, in addition to endless entertainment access.
Though the internet can be attractive and enjoyable, it can also be harmful, annoying, and unkind. There are strategies that someone can use to prevent trauma in case of cyberbullying or body shaming. Practicing self-care is one of the strategies, but though it may be thought to be simple, many people struggle to prioritize it. Examples include taking a walk or practicing breathing exercises. Spreading awareness about cyberbullying is another strategy. This can help to encourage beneficial online interactions among the different users to engage in positive matters that can impact well in people’s life.