Recently, a Canadian online newspaper reported that two brothers have been jailed for 16 months due to the cyberbullying and sexual exploitation of a 14-year old girl. The cyberbullying had a great impact on the girl over a long period of time. After being victimized for 10 months, the girl still feels frightened and demonstrates symptoms of extreme anxiety. Additionally, last year, two American girls were arrested in relation to the death of a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide after being bullied online for months. Those two girls allegedly sent the victim messages on Facebook calling her ugly.
The two cases above are examples of cyberbullying among adolescents. Cyberbullying has been shown to be a serious concern due to the mental distress and psychological harm it causes (Strasburger et al., 2013). As the concern also relates to social media use among adolescents, it is debatable if social media contribute to bullying behavior among adolescents. Bullying itself is defined as aggressive behavior that is intended to repeatedly hurt an individual who cannot defend her/himself both in physical or non-physical forms (Olweus, 2012).
However, social media enthusiasts who perceive social media as a new tool believe that social media benefit adolescents. They argue that bullying behavior among adolescents has nothing to do with social media. Studies conducted by Valkenburg et al (2006) and Smith et al (2008) found that the use of social media among adolescents positively correlates with self-esteem. Adolescents who have positive face-to-face relationships view interaction in social media as a reflection of the offline relationships and use social media as an additional venue to communicate. Therefore one should be wary of drawing the conclusion that social media contribute to bullying behavior among adolescents. Continue reading