Social Media Bullying and its Impacts on High School and Middle Schoolers

Pride Surveys Social Media Bullying and Cyber Bullying
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At Pride Surveys, our mission is driven by our commitment to work with our community coalition partners and educators to provide data, research, and resources surrounding and focusing on the issues affecting today’s youth and adolescents. October is National Bullying Prevention month and we’re focusing on social media and the impacts it can have on high school and middle schoolers, specifically when it comes to cyberbullying, the new phenomenon over the last decade or two that is now the prominent form of bullying and includes social media bullying.

First and foremost, it’s critical that communities recognize the difference between bullying and fighting. While both look similar, fighting occurs between two people with equal power, whether it’s size, strength, or intellect. Bullying, on the other hand, is classified as someone, or a group, who has more power and is more aggressive than the person who is being targeted. A bully will then utilize their power, whether physical strength, damaging personal information, or threats or taunting, to ultimately hurt or control the victim. One out of every five students between the ages of 12 and 18 has experienced bullying at some point, and usually, it’s due to social media bullying. 

Cyberbullying, as it’s called, refers to any bullying that takes place in the digital world, usually via social media. With students as young as elementary school ages now having cell phones and tablets, it opens up an entirely new world of harmful bullying and is a significant concern. Adolescents who are the victims of social media bullying are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and academic difficulties.

When someone is the target of being bullied, they will often find it hard to defend themselves and likely feel increasingly powerless or relentlessly rejected by the person bullying them. Due to social media, it’s easier for these types of attacks to happen often as well. It can be really difficult for parents or educators to identify if someone is the victim or perpetrator of bullying for many reasons. The bullier is good at hiding what they’re doing and it’s usually out of sight when on social media, and the victim, feeling helpless, will often shut down, and not tell anyone out of fear of additional consequences. It’s helpful for peers to know when and how to help if they see someone being bullied.

The impact of any kind of social media bullying often results in the following situations and outcomes

Increased Self-Isolation

Students who are bullied typically begin to feel so badly about themselves that they, in turn, isolate themselves from their other friends, family members, and mentors. This could be because they worry about others finding out about the bullying and then believing the bullies or because they exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression. They are likely to spend a lot of time closed off in their rooms when not at school and “keeping their heads down” when actually in school. If other peers are bullying them, they likely will not want to attend school and may fake illness or other means to get out of going to class.

Decreased Academic Achievement

GPA, standardized test scores, and school participation are all proven to decrease with increased student bullying. According to a UCLA study, a professor of psychology at UCLA and the lead author of the study reported that bullying and low academic achievement are frequently linked.

Loss of Self-Confidence

Though it may seem like a given, one of the first effects bullied students feel is a loss of confidence. Kids often feel like they are not as good at a particular subject, talent, hobby, or sport as the person bullying them. They take the bullier’s feedback to heart and may feel like they do not deserve to participate in a certain activity. This loss of self-confidence can affect other areas of life, like academics and how they socialize.  

Increased Self-Criticism

Students who are bullied are often reported to be harsher on themselves as well. This may be because they have heard many negative comments or accusations from the bully, so they believe the statements are true and take them to heart. This could also include feeling badly about traits they cannot change, such as skin color, hair, or height.

If you notice signs of social media bullying or any type of bullying, behavioral stress, depression, addiction, or other mental health-related issues in your student or child, it is critical to bring in professionals and/or counselors. If your community coalition or school requires data collection to determine the mental health issues that may be occurring, please reach out to the Pride Surveys team. We offer many options to fit various needs. 


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