Online abuse and cyberbullying are a plague that currently infests our society; it has penetrated al corners of modern society as everyone is connected online. Unless we do something about this right now, this plague will only continue to spread and claim many more victims by causing severe mental health issues and suicidal depression in our future generations. There are no limits to who can be affected by cyberbullying and online attacks as it affects everyone regardless of creed, ethnicity, and gender which especially leaves our youth vulnerable at a crucial stage in their lives into becoming adults.
Social media has brought with it many benefits and new ways to communicate around the world unlike before. While it has many benefits, like any tool, it can be used for evil as well. Social media has the potential to expose innocents to others who may make negative comments about them and engage in personal attacks. This is a serious problem as harassing someone online is like a foreign invader that has entered your personal space and is destroying you from the inside like a deadly virus. This is why it is important to launch a campaign to make people awareness of the serious harm that social media can do to the youth in the UK between the ages of 18 – 25; the hope is that with the campaign and it bringing awareness, the youth use social media responsibly and adults know how to deal with these problems before they escalate into an epidemic that destroys the future generations to come before they even reach adulthood.
In the UK, the youth between the ages of 18 – 25 are comfortable with sharing their personal information publicly without fear of any ramifications. More and more youth are entering into the social media space overtime. According to Statista (2018), the age range of 18 – 25 are the highest users of social media and also the among the most that are creating new profiles. The youth are constantly on the rise in the UK on social media. However, while they are becoming increasingly active on social media like Facebook, they are more vulnerable to personal attacks.
Online, being attacked personally is becoming a common occurrence as more youth go online; this often causes emotional trauma and eventually suicide. There have been reports that almost 50% of students are victims of personal attacks online. Currently, more than 63% of the youth in UK use Facebook which makes many vulnerable to online attacks (Statista, 2018). In particular, the younger range between 18 – 25 are more likely to lose self-confidence to the point of wanting to commit suicide.
Personal attacks are severely detrimental not only to an individual’s personal life, but their social life as well. About 20% of UK’s youth would start to fight more with their friends online and such negative engagement would create loneliness, depression, anxiety, ADHD, poor skills in a social environment, and more; these are all symptoms of poor self-confidence which eventually leads to destruction.
This all can be seen in the case of Felix Alexander. The 11 year-old was constantly harassed online by students saying he was too ugly and should not be invited to social gatherings. At his age, everyone was on social media and if people didn’t use it, they would be isolated. Thus, Alexander was in a predicament and spoke to no one about it. Eventually, the 11 year-old committed suicide by jumping in front of a train due to the constant online abuse he received (BBC, 2018).
As a result, the dangers are very real of social media and the constant barrage of personal attacks that almost 50% of the youth receive on a regular basis. This means that almost half of UK’s youth is potentially subject to the same fate as Alexander as the harmful impacts of cyberbullying and online attacks are very clearly known and documented. As social media is easily accessible, this virus of abuse online has become an epidemic and without standing up to it and trying to find a solution, we may have a generation where half our people lack any confidence and engage in destructive behaviors that can eventually lead to suicide.
Statista. 2018. Social media usage in the United Kingdom (UK) – Statistics & Facts | Statista. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/3236/social-media-usage-in-the-uk/. [Accessed 17 August 2018].
Statista. 2018. • Social networks ranked by market share UK 2018 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/280295/market-share-held-by-the-leading-social-networks-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/. [Accessed 17 August 2018].
Statista. 2018. • Social network profile creation by age UK 2010-2017 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/271879/social-network-profile-creation-in-the-uk-by-age/. [Accessed 17 August 2018].
BBC News. 2018. Cyberbullying: Mum’s story of loss inspires prince to act – BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42002981. [Accessed 19 August 2018].