Written by: Maggie Mejia
I remember those days when I used to open the popular app with the yellow background and ghost logo. Yes, I’m talking about Snapchat. In my middle school days, I unlocked my phone afterschool and looked at my classmates playing silly anonymous games. All the names I would see were people I knew; they were being ranked on a scale of 1-10 for their looks and appearance. It seemed so thrilling to fill out my name when I swiped up.
Now that I am four years past this strange experience, I realize how much it put down my self esteem. It would be hard for me to fully focus on my academics. I now realize how much this made me yearn for validation from my classmates at such a young age. In today’s article we will talk about the impact of the allowance of social media to young teens and how it may result in cyberbullying.
So, what is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of harmful words or mockery against someone through the internet that is usually targeted on children. People may make false rumors about someone and intentionally make fun of someone’s appearance or behaviors even if the victim of the bullying has done nothing wrong to begin with. Cyberbullies may threaten someone to do an activity that may ruin the victim’s image and make them feel bad about themselves.
This harms the victim’s self esteem like no other social interaction can. With undeveloped minds as teens are growing, some often don’t think about the impact their actions hold against others. It makes some of us curious as to how one may react to such offenses. As we have this device on our hands we often view online “life” as private to our families and don’t speak about the negativity being sent to us.
Comparison in Young Women
Middle school teenage girls are most likely victims of cyberbullying because we are more vulnerable to comparing ourselves with girls we see online and influenced by the beauty standards established by society. According to a study done by the National Education Center Statistics (in the U.S) in 2019, it has been shown that “three times as many girls as boys report being harassed online.” Cyberbullies view younger age groups as vulnerable targets and that there are no consequences for them other than simply being blocked. As feminine beings, our minds are sensitive to our appearances and how we portray ourselves to others. Online, people establish what “ugliness” means for women and people follow these standards, telling other women what they should change about their appearances. In the female gender, cyberbullies may view us as a one-size-fits all beauty standard in our online presence. They feel the need to decide what’s attractive and what is not. Going online as a woman may have more of an impact on our mental health because of these possible encounters.
Why is this important?
We need to be aware of our presence online and how actions may have an impact on other women. Knowing that cyberbullying is still prevalent, we as a society need to better the online environment as social media apps are still making changes to do so. Checking up on friends and how they actually feel being online can make a difference on how we use our devices. Guiding young girls and boys on how to use the internet will shape them into healthier and kinder people. The more youth become aware about this knowledge, the more the future can be improved with our actions online.