Social Media & Online Bullying

I really don’t think that this comes as a shock to anyone living in a social media dependent world, that social media and online bullying can cause depression. Studies have been done on the effects of online bullying and social media and some show evidence to support that theory.

For me, I’m not surprised at all. Children and teens spend more time now on their phones than going outside to play. Playing outdoors and going to meet your friends (face to face) like us older generations used do, is virtually non-existent. Roughly 75% (maybe more) children & teens have a smart phone. A lot of those kids have social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. If you’re familiar with social media, there are a lot (I mean A LOT) of bullying on social media.

Pretty much everyday when the Kardashian family posts something, they always get ridiculed for it. Again, I don’t follow nor care for celebrities, but that’s ridiculous. Social media can be very cruel and some people are bullied constantly via social media. Since I have no children and if I did, I would NEVER give my children a smart phone or access to social media. No way!

It’s so disheartening to see what the world has become since the Social Media Era started. A lot of people are online and spend most (if not all) of their time on different sites. When I was younger, I was always outdoors and socialized with other kids. My dad didn’t want me to be disconnected from society because you need to learn how to be social in order to function in society. My dad had a cool entertainment center when I was growing up. It was large and all wood and there was a compartment for my Atari (if you don’t know what this is, then look it up) and other video games. The compartment had a lock on it and my dad had the key. So if I used up my allotted game time, then I was to go outside and play or go to a friend’s house. I miss those days!

Nowadays, kids are glued to the hip with their phones. They probably sleep and/or shower with them. I don’t know. A lot of my staff are high school and college aged and they’re glued to their phones. I usually lock their devices in a locker and then unlock them during their lunch hour. If I didn’t do this, than no work would be accomplished at all.

I’ve seen and heard about stories where people addicted to social media develop depression. Of course! You’re isolating yourself from society and you are gluing yourself into video games, and your phone. I have many co-workers that are addicted to video games and social media and will spend many hours all day on their phone.

Living an unhealthy diet of social media for breakfast, lunch and dinner; is unhealthy for anyone’s overall mental health. Most people addicted to their phones or video games will develop depression faster and experience a sudden change in behavior. The employees that are addicted to their video games, are very socially awkward. Video games are their best friend. Even more serious, is online bullying. I’ve read stories about teens that were bullied online for their looks, their name, any physical condition they may have, and etc. Some of these kids go to the extremes and take their own lives. Worse, if they don’t just try to self-harm themselves, they harm innocent lives. If you look at school shootings, I wouldn’t be surprised if certain factors such as depression, any form of mental illness, bullying are the main causes of shootings. For example, when I was a sophomore in high school back in 1999, Columbine happened. Those shooters were bullied to a certain extent and they carried out this plan and destroyed so many families that day. Shootings now are more prevalent and I have to wonder if social media and online bullying are part of the issue.

If this is the case, then from a parental standpoint, something needs to be addressed and fixed right away. If you begin to notice that something is off with your child because of problems with bullying or spending too much time on social media, then investigate. Children and teenagers really don’t need to be on social media (Again, it’s your choice and your life!), they should be interacting with other kids face to face. (We are living in a digital world!) Start combing through your kids accounts. You are their parents! You lead by example and also set it! You should be concerned if you start noticing threats and see negative comments on their social media accounts. Those kinds of harsh words and judgement can drastically affect anyone. If your kid is bullied for their weight online, then do something about. Disable their accounts and keep them off social media, talk with your children’s teachers and schoolmates; whatever it takes just find a resolution.

If your child self harms or commits suicide, don’t say I didn’t know. In a lot of cases, it’s true. Some parents don’t know what their child was thinking or going through. The kids that I went to school with, who took their own lives did it because they were unhappy. Their parents were shocked and couldn’t believe their child was capable of this. But, their classmates and some teachers knew their child better than the parents did.

You should intervene at the beginning when you first notice something is off. For example, if your child is a straight A student and their grades start slipping to D’s and F’s; do something. My grades in school were mostly B’s and C’s and they dropped to D’s and F’s during depressive episodes. I had homework piled up because I didn’t do it nor turn it in. I didn’t care. My parents did. So they talked with the teacher and the school counselor and devised a plan. My parents had a long talk with me about what was going on in school and how to bring up my grades. At first, I denied there was a problem, but eventually, my dad got it out of me and admitted that I was depressed. Communication is SO important! If my parents didn’t intervene and step up to the plate, I don’t think I would’ve made it out alive. What’s really sad is that only 1 out of 10 kids bullied online step up and tell someone. 1 out of 10. You don’t want to know how many kids consider suicide at this point. A lot!

My tips for parents:

  • Don’t give your child a device such as an iPad or smart phone
  • If you do, then CLOSELY and CONSISTENTLY monitor what their online activity and what sites they’re visiting
  • Don’t use social media as a way for them to communicate solely to friends. Get them outside and meet their friends face to face
  • Limit their time on social media! Set up a daily allotted time and then take it away
  • If your child exhibits unusual behavior, then intervene and communicate with them
  • Lead by example! Kids learn a lot from their parents and learn a lot from their peers, too

My tips for children/teens, too:

  • Limit your time on social media
  • Be careful about which sites you visit (There are so many bashing and negative things online!)
  • Be sociable in society! Strike up a conservation with someone
  • Spend less time with your video games and find a better hobby
  • If you experience bullying, then SPEAK UP
  • Be careful about what you post such as your body

Remember, take initiative and do something before it’s too late.

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