Social Media and Cyber Bullying: What Should Be Done?I’ve taken over the Vertical Leap Twitter account today (Red Rocket Media’s sister brand) and I’ll admit it, this morning I had a bit of a rant.
Each morning I do a search for ‘Social Media’ on Google News. It’s a great way to spark blog content, as well as keep a keen eye on all of the various developments within this industry. However, for the past couple of weeks, the blogs and articles focus less on new platforms, case studies or updates and more on the tragic suicides of users on various social channels being targeted by ‘cyber bullies’.
For me, it’s a tragic idea; this industry that I love so much has been tainted by wrongdoing and negativity. Without wanting to sound blasé about it, I compare it to football. As a youngster, Monday mornings were spent talking about Robbie Fowler’s goal, or Cantona’s latest trick. However, any conversation surrounding football is now just about racism, money, even assault. The ‘beautiful game’ eh?
Of course, with any instance of bullying, whether online or offline, it sparks conversations about education.
I was talking with someone, (whom I won’t name) about the tragic suicide of Hannah Smith, who took her own life after receiving abuse on Ask.fm. The conversation then turned to other cases of abuse, bullying, vicious targeting or trolling across social media. My thoughts on this are fairly simple. Social media should be taught at schools.
This angered the unnamed person as, (and to some extent I agree) social media relies on freedom of voice. Social is the tool that allows us to converse freely; either as an individual, brand, or with each other. We don’t teach people to converse with others…
This is true, but I gave this analogy:
Sex education is now being taught to children as young as 7. Why do we do this? Sex education doesn’t teach children how to have sex. It (and the clues in the name) educates them on the risks, outcomes and dangers of sex. This is exactly what we need to facilitate in education regarding social. This isn’t saying we need to solely focus on the dangers and negatives of social media. I’ve presented to undergraduate students (granted, they are much older) highlighting the untapped opportunities of social in regards to online learning and job searching.
As the years pass, social media will become inherent in teenagers’ (and pre-teens’) lives. I only have to chat with friends who mention their children, as young as 8/9, wanting to be on Facebook.
Now is the time to tackle this issue. Once the younger generation has the core functions of social grasped, they will already be ‘natives’.
What do think?
Granted, it’s a topic more suited on Question Time or the like, but it’s an issue I keep revisiting. I don’t want to see one of my biggest passions get tarnished at the expense of people’s lives.
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