Twitter and Teens: a relationship that can be a positive or negative one.
Cyber bullying is unfortunately on the rise, with many teens being on the receiving end of harassing tweets. For most teens, Twitter is a fun way to stay connected, meet new people and express themselves. Unfortunately, it is also a way for bullies to put down others. This article will discuss this disturbing trend, along with ways to counter cyber bullying on Twitter.
In general, cyber bullying is just as bad as regular bullying. While physical violence is not involved, psychological and emotional attacks can be just as painful. An additional downside of cyber bullying is that the perpetrator is usually able to stay anonymous, giving the victim little recourse but to abandon the platform all together.
Another problem is that cyber bullies have access to their victims 24/7. Even when the victim is sleeping, he/she can still be targeted. In that way, a feeling of being constantly under siege can take hold and lead to a very unfortunate emotional downward spiral where only abandoning Twitter all together can seem like the only escape.
The relationship between Twitter and teens should not be one where the teen who is victimized by cyber bullying needs to leave. That is grossly unfair: Twitter should be an open platform where everyone should have the ability to freely use it to connect and express. It is the bully who should be expected to leave, although that is pretty unrealistic as well. Like most things online, even if a bully’s account is blocked, he/she can always just create a new one and continue to anonymously attack.
This isn’t to say that the victim or his/her supporters should not report the bullying to Twitter. The website has a system for reporting cyber bullying. To report an incident, click “Contact” in the footer, then click on “Customer Support.” Once you are on the customer support page, click on “Report a Violation” and submit a ticket. Be sure to include all the details that you can about the cyber bullying incident.
Perhaps the best way to help out a teen who is being cyber bullied on Twitter is to support him/her on the site. If a bully @mentions the teen and says something hateful, affirm the victim and condemn the bully. Make it clear that there is no place for that on Twitter. Get other people that you know to join you so that the bully’s pathetic attacks are drowned out. Off the web site, be equally as supportive to the teen.
Ultimately, having an overwhelming number of supporters both online and offline is the most effective way to counter the effects of cyber bullying.