How Facebook and Google+ Are Combating Cyberbullying

CyberbullyingWith National Bullying Prevention Month coming up in October, social media giants Facebook and Google+ are preparing by working to help parents, educators, and community leaders better understand cyberbullying. The cyberbullying epidemic is quickly growing as social media and mobile devices are more integrated into our daily lives and are more frequently being accessed by adolescents. Cyberbullying has serious consequences for the mental health of young people, and social networks are seeking new ways to combat this problem and allow parents and teachers to be better equipped to handle it.

They Cyberbullying Epidemic

Cyberbullying is a major problems amongst both kids and teenagers in the U.S. Reports show that almost 43% of young people have faced online bullying, and for 1 in 4 it is a repeat occurrence. Amongst teenagers, cell phones have become the most common tool used for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has serious effects on mental health, causing victims to be 2-9 times as likely to have suicidal thoughts.

Why is cyberbullying so harmful? First, this type of bullying can happen anytime, anyplace. It can be done completely anonymously while being seen by a huge group of people, many of whom are the victim’s peers. Cyberbullying is both hard to trace and hard to prevent. This means that cyberbullying leads to dire consequences. In addition to being more likely to think about suicide, those who face cyberbullying may do poorly in school or even skip, turn to substance abuse, or develop mental health problems.

Facebook: Guidelines for Educators & Community Leaders

With the Facebook for Educators and Community Leaders Guide, Facebook hopes to help parents, teachers, and young people better understand how they can use Facebook’s safety features to combat cyberbullying and increase online safety. This document is comprised of contributions from a variety of sources, including the Family Online Safety Institute and Rosalind Wiseman, author of the book that inspired the popular movie Mean Girls. The guide discusses the community standards on Facebook, how one can report abuse and control privacy settings, prevention of bullying online, and other resources.

Google+: Hangouts for Parents & Educators

Google+ is also hoping to aid parents and educators in the fight against cyberbullying through a new series of Google Hangouts. Google+ has partnered with PopSugar, a network that runs websites geared toward women. PopSugar Moms will be holding the Hangouts with Google+, and they will talk about cyberbullying as well as preventing suicide and the ways that schools and educators can combat cyberbullying and encourage safe, healthy social media use. Their focus on women is particularly beneficial as girls are two times as likely as boys to both be cyberbullies and be the victims of cyberbullying.

How do you think parents, teachers, and social media networks can better combat cyberbullying?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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