There are many advancements in communication and technology in the new age. These advancements have made it easy to communicate with people from different parts of the world and access information about other people with just a click of a button. Social media has become a thing in this era where people post news, pictures, and videos of themselves and their loved ones. Most people do this with the intention of interacting with others across the world and creating new relations. Social media has given rise to cyberbullying, which is a form of online intimidation and harassment that causes mental harm to the victims which has long-lasting consequences. It can be in the form of text-based messages, comments, spreading rumors, sharing embarrassing photos or videos, or engaging in hate speech. There is an increase in the prevalence of cyberbullying in the digital era that demands urgent attention, urging the need for prevention strategies and solid support networks. This research explores the various methods and support mechanisms aimed at preventing cyberbullying, which include educational and awareness-based plans, parent inclusion, taking legal action, offering counseling services, implementing technological solutions, building youth social competence online, and offering immediate support to the victims, and proposing significant recommendations for educational institutions, guardians, and policymakers.
Educational and awareness-based strategies in schools to help prevent cyberbullying. Educational institutions have a vital role in establishing a secure environment. When schools introduce programs that teach students about cyberbullying, it helps them understand what it is and how to deal with it. Cyberbullying is common among school-going teenagers because, at that age, they have specific standards of beauty they have set in their minds. Young people who have access to social media are vulnerable to cyberbullying as they expose themselves to hate from online viewers. One single hate comment from the viewers affects these young people in a significant way. To prevent this, schools should organize anti-bullying strategies to raise awareness about the issue. Studies have illustrated a critical decrease in occurrences of cyberbullying in schools that have consolidated all-encompassing prevention programs into their educational programs (Torgal et al.). However, few analysts contend that school resources ought to center exclusively on academic interests. Nonetheless, cultivating a favorable social atmosphere boosts the overall welfare of students, ultimately resulting in improved academic success.
Parents’ dynamic inclusion in checking their children’s online exercises, combined with instructing digital literacy aptitudes, engages teenagers to recognize and respond appropriately to occasions of cyberbullying. When parents are actively involved in what their children do online and teach them how to use the Internet responsibly, it helps kids understand what is right and wrong in the digital world. Teenagers and children are vulnerable to cyberbullying. Most of the time, they do not know how to respond to it, and others take part in bullying others online. To curb this, parents should educate their children on how they can be safe while using various online and restricted sites that might make them prone to cyberbullying. Through this, children will learn how to use the Internet responsibly. Studies have shown that the combination of parental supervision and instruction in digital literacy plays a considerable role in mitigating the effects of cyberbullying on youths. (Tao et al.). However, detractors have raised the point that guardians cannot oversee every facet of their children’s online relations. Nevertheless, supporting transparent dialogue and offering direction can improve a child’s capacity to explore the digital realm safely.
Implementing stringent legal repercussions for cyberbullying and formulating extensive policies at both institutional and national levels can yield a preventative impact and establish accountability. When there are strict laws against cyberbullying, and schools have clear rules about it, individuals are less likely to engage in such behaviors. The government can pass laws that address cyberbullying and provide a haven for the victims. These laws should make it clear what actions or activities will be considered cyberbullying, put in place penalties for the offenders, and protect the rights of the victims. Research has shown that regions with strict laws witnessed a decrease in cyberbullying cases, underscoring the significance of pursuing legitimate measures to avoid it (Wahanisa et al.). This is because people are scared when legal actions are taken against them, hence the decrease in cyberbullying in these regions. Nonetheless, Skeptics contend that legal measures cannot eliminate online harassment. Whereas exacting laws may not totally eradicate cyberbullying, they do work as effective obstruction, thereby diminishing both the recurrence and severity of cyberbullying occurrences.
Counseling. Services should be made available for cyberbullying victims. Cyberbullying has significant effects on the psychological well-being of its victims. When the victims go through public humiliation, either through hate comments or embarrassing videos or pictures being posted online, they end up having self-esteem issues, which take a toll on their mental health. At first, most of these victims try to pretend that the bullying does not affect them, but eventually, they give in. Most of them fall into depression, and others end up committing suicide. This is because, in this digital age, people thrive on the praise they get from others online, and when the opposite happens, it messes up with one’s mind. When this happens, counseling is essential to help the victims talk about what they have gone through and get professional help. However, studies show that it is hard for cyberbullying victims to seek professional help from counselors because of the denial, shame, or fear of their devices being taken away from them in the case of children. However, To help curb cyberbullying, studies show that counseling services should not be provided to the cyberbullying victims but also to the cyberbully. This will help the victim cope with the trauma and rehabilitate the cyberbully (Johnson). Rehabilitating the bully will help bring down the cases of cyberbullying.
Implementing technological solutions is another strategy that will help prevent cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has become rampant because most social media apps have not put in place mechanisms to avoid it. Online platforms and social media companies should have an easily accessible reporting and clocking tool that will enable users to report and block accounts that are being used for cyberbullying. Through this, they are able to protect themselves before the bullying causes further damage. Providing anonymous reporting options will be helpful for people who are afraid of calling out the perpetrators openly. This will also help other people to report the accounts without their identities being revealed. It is also essential that social media companies and online platforms employ content filtering technology, which will help identify and remove harmful content promptly (Tanrilulu and Topcu-Uzer). However, it is argued that with the advancements in technology and the use of the dark web and other techniques, cyberbullies can still bully others, even with the technological solutions in place. This shows that these solutions are only partially effective. However, tools like cyberbullying detection systems have helped reduce these incidences in great numbers.
Building youth social competence online is helpful in preventing cyberbullying. Living in digital times, parents can easily access their children to electrical devices and online platforms. This means that in today’s world, young children are exposed to cyberbullying at an early age. Studies have shown that youths nowadays are exposed to the Internet even more than their parents. At times, it becomes impossible for parents to control them. That is why parents need to train their children on how to navigate the online world, even without parents’ supervision. This will be possible when youths are given an opportunity to engage with others, where they are likely to learn from their mistakes (Giron and Doty). Those against this argument argue that allowing the youth to navigate the online world without any parental control puts them at risk of being cyberbullied or becoming cyberbullies because young people tend to make mistakes in the name of having fun or peer pressure.
Offering immediate support to cyberbullying victims helps address their emotional and psychological distress. Anyone can fall victim to cyberbullying. It is important to encourage open communication among the victims so that they can talk about their feelings and experiences. This will be possible when the victims have a safe space or someone they can trust and open up to. When someone is being cyberbullied, they need to know that their feelings are valid and they can express them without being judged. This helps reduce cases where victims keep the hurt to themselves, which ends up affecting their self-esteem and mental health. In case one is being cyberbullied, they need to be listened to with understanding and compassion. This will help remind and assure them that they are loved and that the opinions of strangers who bully them online do not matter. Nonetheless, there are times when the damage done by cyberbullies is too much, and the victims will require more than immediate support. This is where legal and professional actions are necessary.
In conclusion, to prevent cyberbullying, many strategies should be put in place and implemented. Educational institutions should emphasize the need for digital literacy in schools and teach learners how to be safe online. Parents should also be involved in monitoring the online activities of their children, laws against cyberbullying should be put in place, counseling services should be offered to the victims and the perpetrators, online platforms and social media companies should implement technological solutions, the parents should take part in building youth competence online to the extent that they can survive in the online world with no supervision and those who fall victims of cyberbullying should be given immediate support. Through this, the cases of cyberbullying will be reduced, and people can communicate and interact with others in the online world without living in constant fear of being bullied.
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