Cyberbullying continues to be a problem among Generation Z, particularly during the holiday season when a Gen Z’s world is amped up by life stressors: exams, social media exclusion, polarized election, college application process, and family squabbles.
As part of my series entitled, “Gen Z Unplugged”, where I explore new social frontiers pioneered by tech-savvy Gen Z, I’d like to share a young mental health writer’s deeper look into cyberbullying and its potentially devastating effects on Gen Z.
Guest Post by Jenny Holt, Mental Health Writer for WhyTeamBuilding.com
Is Gen Z More Susceptible to Cyberbullying?
Generation Z, loosely defined as children and teens born after 1996, is way more connected to the digital world and technology than previous generations. Studies show that 73% of teenagers have access to a smartphone or devices with connection to the internet. These young people use social networks multiple times in a day with Snap-chat, Instagram and Facebook top choices of communicating between close peers. In fact, the influence of social media on Generation Z is so huge that according to a study, 42% of respondents believed that it affects how they feel about themselves.
Cyberbullying and Generation Z
Technology and social media can be viewed in two different ways. On one side, it can empower young people by keeping them informed and connected. The other side is that social media has, in fact, a negative impact on the youth’s perception of self-worth. The 2014 statistics from the National Crime Prevention Council are not encouraging with 43% of young people reporting that they have been bullied online. Social media does have its dark side given the anonymity of messaging apps, online forums and communities. Anyone has access to social media and people can say whatever they feel like. Often, young people, the most vulnerable groups, are targeted.
Effects on Victims
Any form of bullying, online or offline, has negative consequences on the victim causing physical, psychological and mental stress. Bullied victims are at higher risk to sink into depression. They may feel sad, lonely, and unable to sleep & eat or lose interest in activities. Grades will likely suffer with some missing, skipping or even dropping out of school. Targets of cyberbullying might turn to drugs and alcohol. Bullying can lead to persistent thoughts of self-harm or suicide which might continue into adulthood. Victims of bullying may even retaliate through violent means such as going on rampant shooting.
For statistics on cyberbullying – https://www.teensafe.com/blog/cyber-bullying-facts-and-statistics/