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Cyberbullying: Which 3 Social Networks Are the Worst?

Social media sites are one of the leading places that pre-teens and teens experience bullying, whether they are being bullied, bullying someone or witnessing it. What is staggering is that 90% of those who witnessed bullying on their social media sites have ignored the behavior.

Cyber predation is "behind-the-scenes bullying." It's the electronic transmission of damaging words and photos, and it allows predators to reach victims stealthily and anonymously through online means. Unlike physical oppressors, cyberbullies can torment students 24/7, relying on tools like social media platforms, instant messaging, email, blogs and websites rather than face-to-face encounters.

Far reaching consequences

With the advent of apps like Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter, etc., cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent than ever. Everyday there are over 150,000 kids nationwide who stay home from school because of bullying; and it seems like every week there's a story in the news about a child committing suicide because they were bullied, which is one too many.  

While cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, the consequences are far-reaching and similar to those of physical and emotional bullying. Victims may experience psychological and emotional damage, severe depression, anxiety, anger-and even suicidal behavior.

According to the website, StopItcyberbully.com, types of cyberbullying include, but are not limited to:

  • Flaming: Using inappropriate or vulgar language to attack or fight with someone.
  • Harrassing: Repeatedly sending inappropriate, hurtful or hateful messages.
  • Outing: Sharing a victim's secrets or personal information in a public forum.
  • Exclusion: Intentionally and publicly excluding someone from a group, and tormenting them after exclusion.
  • Impersonation: Posing as someone for the purposes of damaging their reputation, inviting an attack, or sharing real or fabricated information about them.
  • Stalking: Electronically "following" someone and sending them targeted messages with the intention of scaring, harming or intimidating them.

Worst 3 social media sites for bullying

According to Detective Sgt. Thomas Rich, a certified NJ police officer and the creator and founder of Always Connected, a program developed to "inform law enforcement, educators, administration, youth workers, youth groups, parents and children of all ages how to utilize technology in a positive way," and Todd Shobel, President of STOPit, which is helping students, schools and parents stand up against cyberbullying through use of an innovative iPhone and Android app, the worst three social media sites for bullying are:StopiT i phone app

1. Facebook - Of course, cyberbullying is happening on Facebook, and despite the network's recent decline in popularity among teens, millions still congregate there. One of the most common forms of bullying on Facebook is harsh commenting on users' self-photos (selfies). It's a vicious circle, really, as teens who post photos are often looking for positive affirmation and end up getting the opposite.

2. Instagram - An unfortunate byproduct of the rise of Instagram is the popularity of "rate me" posts or impromptu beauty contests. Teens, most frequently girls (but boys get into the act too), post pictures of themselves with a hashtag (#rateme, #hotornot) or referencing a contest (#custestteen) looking for likes or positive comments. Not surprisingly, many of the comments are anything but positive. Instagram users who set their accounts to private can avoid unwanted comments from strangers.

3. Ask.fm - From what Rich and Shobel have seen, the ratio of negative comments to positive ones is highest on Ask.fm, for a very straightforward reason. "Good" kids usually sign up for Ask.fm using their real name, but are not required to do so. Bullies are free to sign up for a fully anonymous account, and therefore can bully without fear of their real identity being uncovered. Ask.fm has been linked to 9 teen suicides in the past year.

Warning Signs of Bullying

Rich and Shoebel say parents should be on the lookout for the following signs that their child may be the victim of cyberbullying:

  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Unexpectedly stops using phone or computer
  • Appears nervous or jumpy when an Instant Message, text message, or Email appears 
  • Appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using phone or computer 
  • Becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
  • Expresses reluctance or refuses to participate in activities previously enjoyed

Innovative new app 

The new StopiT app enables victims and witnesses of cyberbullying to instantly report incidents of cyberbullying to a trusted network of adults. There's both a personal and school version of the app, and it's available on both iOS and Droid. StopIt already has hundreds or personal users and a handful of New Jersey school districts signed up through its beta stage.