The Role of Video in Cyberbullying. As noted below, Instagram is now cited as the worst social media platform for cyberbullying, followed by Facebook and Snapchat. All of these mediums are heavily dependent on video as the posting source. Because of the ease with which video can be taken from a smartphone, much of cyberbullying posting takes the form of a video.
These videos can be snippets of the victim taken in awkward moments blown out of proportion, private compromising videos that are leaked, video of a confrontation, or videos of others talking about the victim….and so on. Making matters worse, cyberbullying videos can sometimes go viral throughout the school community and beyond. Video conveys so much more emotion and realism than a photo or plain text, which makes it a potent weapon for the bully and hated one for the bullied and therefore must be addressed as part of the problem and solution.
Some Sobering Stats. Thirty-four percent of kids surveyed at a Midwestern middle school reported being cyberbullied. While high already, this number increases among older students. A more recent survey directed at teens aged 13 to 17 found that 59 percent had experienced cyberbullying. Online harassment is no longer a fringe problem, but one that affects a majority of students, and results in anxiety, depression, alienation, and even suicide. Cyberbullying can be managed, however, and potentially even prevented.
Cyberbullying generally happens through social media. 42 percent of victims say that Instagram is the worst social media platform for cyberbullying. Facebook is second, at 37 percent, followed by Snapchat at 31 percent. Cyberbullying also occurs via text, email, and comments on posts and videos. Since social media and online messaging are indispensable for students, it’s futile to ask them to stop such communication altogether. However, they can turn social media and video communication into cyberbullying antidotes.
What Kids Can Do
Kids can exchange information about how to recognize and prevent bullying with their peers via social media. They can create powerful and moving videos about cyberbullying and how to affect change. They can also do this individually and in the classroom via video projects, in which they can express their concerns and strategies regarding cyberbullying. Interactivity and creativity are two excellent motivators for students to open up about cyberbullying. For example, imagine a new student eating alone in the cafeteria day after day. The football team quarterback makes the move to join the student for lunch. The quarterback is seen as a school leader and is respected opening the doors for others in the school to recognize and interact with the student. Someone records the interaction and posts on Instagram. Many such settings have been shown through video – what a powerful story to tell! Yes, the role of video in cyberbullying can be powerful!
What Parents Can Do
Parents should learn about the impact of cyberbullying. Although traditional bullying can be extremely damaging, cyberbullying, in some respects, can be worse. For instance, traditional bullying happens in one location – at school, on the school bus, at sporting events, etc. – while cyberbullying is mobile, making home, a safe space for many victims of traditional bullying, just another location for harassment. Also, traditional bullying has an expiry date. Cyberbullying can be permanent because the internet is permanent. Bruises fade, but that mean comment from 2012 is still on Facebook.
Parents should, therefore, assess whether their children are being cyberbullied. If they are, it’s crucial to understand the difficulties they are going through, and gently work with them to find solutions to their problem. Solutions include increasing their privacy on social media or having them confront the bullies in real life. Comments can be disabled on video channels and photo sharing sites, and parents can encourage this to reduce the likelihood of negative comments online.
What Teachers Can Do
A lot of cyberbullying begins and ends in the classroom. If students are missing school, not completing their assignments, acting depressed, or showing any other sign of distress, teachers should identify what it is that’s bothering them. If the answer is cyberbullying, teachers should take the necessary steps to ease the child’s suffering, first by reviewing school policy and then following its proscribe action steps. Doing nothing is the worst thing that can happen, so teachers are the first line of defense and must take action. Teachers should also educate students about cyberbullying to prevent future incidents. The role of video in cyberbullying here too is powerful, as teachers can use video presentations to educate and motivate students to recognize and cease cyberbullying behavior. There are many well-done videos on CyberBullying for free on SchoolTube and from anti-bullying organizations such as the Megan Meir Foundation.
Cyberbullying is a problem that seems to get worse as online communication grows, especially through the role of video in cyberbullying. But stopping it is possible if kids, parents and teachers work together to take preventative and disciplinary measures against this new type of bullying. While all bullying is burdensome, cyberbullying presents unique challenges that require unique solutions.
Contributed by Jennifer Hay, 9/12/19