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Words can hurt: Cyberbullying

Along with the growth of technology comes with the rise of cyberbullying. Technology is great, it brings about many beneficial progress to our lives, however when taken advantage of, it can ruin lives. As we become more connected with each other in the cyber world, it makes us more vulnerable to other’s opinions and comments.

Singapore is no stranger to cyberbullying. According to CNA, it is reported that 3 in 4 youngsters have been bullied online. When our online identities are made accessible to the public, perpetrators can easily hide behind an anonymous account and leave vicious comments, with the ill intention to hurt. This is especially common among influencers and celebrities, as their every move is closely scrutinised by the public eye. Many suffered from the effects of cyberbullying, and one of them was a Netflix star Hana Kimura. Kimura, aged 22, is a pro-wrestler and a star of the reality TV show ‘Terrace House: Tokyo’ on Netflix. She had received hundreds of hate comments on her social media page after her appearance on the show, which could allegedly be linked to her suicide. Her death led to a discussion of cyberbullying and it prompted Japan’s government to make plans on expanding cyberbullying laws.

This is the reality of cyberbullying. You could be questioning, why not just take action against those cyberbullies? Of course, with some actions, cyberbullying would stop, but to what extent? According to CNA, 9 in 10 victims took no action. Some say that by taking action, the bullying would only become more frequent, others think that it is a point of weakness to ask for help. Therefore, many victims are silent sufferers and there are detrimental effects of it.

Many studies have shown that depression among youths are closely interlinked with cyberbullying. Victims feel hurt, humiliated, helpless, ashamed, angry, and more importantly, traumatised after experiencing cyberbullying. Their self esteem and confidence shatters, and slowly, they start to seclude themselves from the world. Words are powerful, it can make or break you. If you are constantly surrounded by negative annotations, you start to associate yourself with them, and one day, it reaches a breaking point. It has been reported that young people are twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide if they receive any forms of cyberbulling. This is why there has been many cases of suicide caused by online bullying, similar to what happened to Hana Kimura.

While we cannot completely stop cyberbullying from happening, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming a victim of it. Here are 3 actions you can take:

1. Private your social media accounts

By having a private account, it limits the interactions you have with only your followers. If you have a limited following circle, you can easily single out bullies when they leave hurtful comments on your accounts.

2. Block and report

Cyberbullies thrive off receiving emotional reactions, so rather than responding and getting involved emotionally, block and report the user.

3. Keep your parents and teachers in the loop

Always, always take action instead of suffering silently! Inform your parents and teachers, keep screenshots and evidence of bullying. Let them be your pillar of support that you can turn to during difficult times.

You might not be a victim of cyberbullying, but you may know someone who is a victim of cyberbullying or a cyberbully, and you should not turn a blind eye to it. Always stand up for what is right - encourage your friends to speak up if they suffer from cyber bullying, stop your friends from bullying someone online. You should also play your part in practicing mindful posting, always think before you post as you may unintentionally hurt someone with the pictures and words you put online. If a community plays their part in advocating for a healthier internet space, it can reduce the act of cyberbullying.

There are many ways you can advocate for a safer and healthier online space. If you love drawing, why not take part in our Make The Change Design For Good youth competition where you can create a beautiful art piece to raise awareness about cyberbullying. For more information, you can click here to learn more!

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