Cyberbullying and Its Harmful Effects on Teens
Teens have nowhere to hide. Cyberbullying is increasing alongside of advances in technology. Most teens now have access to electronic communications and the Internet, making them easy targets for cyberbullying. Cyberbullies are using e-mail, cell phones and the Internet to cause emotional harm, harass, threaten, ridicule, and exert control over their victims. Additionally, cyberbullied teens are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Cyberbullying must be stopped; it poses psychological trauma and health risks, affects social interpersonal skills, and can ultimately cause suicide. A Cyberbully is able to breach every part of its victim’s life, and keeping teens safe in cyberspace will be a challenge that parents, educators, and law enforcement officers must face and defeat. To begin to understand why cyberbullying poses a risk for psychological trauma, as well as other health risks to teens, one must understand a teens’ brain, which is a work in progress. Teens lack fully developed judgment and impulse controls until they transition from childhood to adulthood. The brain’s frontal lobe (involved in making judgments and plans) is slower developing than the brain’s limbic system (associated with emotions and drives), which causes increased emotional stress, and emotional storms. Teens lack fully developed judgment and impulse controls until they transition from childhood to adulthood. “During the early to mid-teen years, self-esteem falls and, for girls, depression scores often increase” (Myers 85). Teens are often impulsive, irritable, uncommunicative, rebellious, risk-takers, sleep-deprived and friend-oriented. At any one time teens can be experiencing one or more of these conditions, not thinking before acting, as well as not considering consequences before taking risks (Hopkins). Teens who are cyberbullied experience depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and often want to miss school. Teens who receive these texts and view cyberbullying online also feel nervous and anxious over the exposure (D'Antona). Texting has become the teens’ preferred communication, along with communicating through social networking site with a posted profile and picture. Which leads to another vile action perpetrated by cyberbullying is taking advantage of teens sending a sexually explicit picture via mobile phone or posting the picture online, which is called sexting. Teens must be made aware these images can with the click of a mouse be transmitted to thousands. These images can harm their reputation, as well as having long term consequences impacting their future such as higher education choices. School nurses can help by educating teens and parents to both prevent legal action that may result from sexting and cyberbullying and to alert them to the emotional stress that often goes along with these behaviors. A cyberbully can also strike at its victim by setting up websites that ridicule, as well as using chat rooms, blogs and social media sites that are available to all who wish to participate. A cyberbully can post untruths, damaging lies, personal information, photos and secrets about a victim and transmit the information to an entire student body with another click of a mouse. Once the information is out in cyber space, whether it is true or not does not matter. Other can view it and expand on it to even greater levels of cruelty. In cyber space the victim is not in front of the perpetrator, and other teens become braver and willingly send or forward mean messages to others. Unfortunately many teens have the misconception that text messages disappear and are only between the sender and the recipient. Not true. These messages become part of cyber space and can be retrieved. Bystanders make it easier for the cyberbullying to continue and by reading the material they are participants and equally responsible for the hurt (D'Antona). Most people associate bullying with boys, but...
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