Risks online- cyber bullying and fake identities

Childline explains that cyber bullying (also called ‘online bullying’) is “when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.” That is one of the many risks online but surely it’s extremely serious. There are a lot of sites where people can read about how to stop cyberbullying and take due precautions. First step it taking safe measures like make your social networking profiles private and not accept people that you don’t know in real life. Next, always remember that the ‘block’ button exists and you can block anyone who annoys or bullies you. No matter if someone talks abusive about you in real life or online it still hurts. It may lead to lower self-esteem and even cases when people wanted to end their lives exist. At the end of the day you may ask yourself “why is this person acting like that?, Why is he bullying me online?”. Truth is, online you can be whoever you want. You can talk nasty about people and think that there will be consequences because it is not face-to-face. Internet empowers people and they feel invincible. What they don’t understand is that their words and actions online may have consequences offline. How to stop it? There are a few things you can do:

  • report bullying and the account of the person will be deleted
  • delete the person and ensure by doing so that he will never be able to get in touch with you
  • try to talk to the person and understand why he does it. Maybe he has serious problems and bullying others online makes him feel better.

I have spoken about Catfish in a previous post but this time I will look at it more deeply.

The TV show has 2.5 million viewers in its return, “winning the day in its sought-after 12-34 demographic.” It has such a big rating among this demographic because when a person is young he is more likely to face the ‘catfish’ phenomenon. By creating fake profiles on social networking sites, these predators trick people into thinking that they are someone else entirely. They choose a random person’s photos, create an imaginary friend list and pick jobs that they wish they had in real life. Some people do it because they are too shy to speak in person or because they don’t like their looks. Others, for more selfish reasons like revenge or to steal someone’s money.

Long story short: This woman had 2 failed marriages, but still believed in love so she decided to join a dating website. There she met a “really good looking guy” who said he was a widower. They started talking on the phone and she developed feelings about him. At one point, he asked her to send him money and so she did, because she was in love with him. They’ve actually never met and over a period of time she has sent him over 1,4 million dollars. Now, every reasonable person will think that this is an online scam and this person is not who pretend he is, but this woman truly believes that he is telling the truth and his stories are legit. The UK financial website of the year, www.thisismoney.com  revealed a list of the top 10 online scams. Number 5 is dating scam that “involves the befriending of a victim over social networking or chat rooms and, after a relationship is struck, they use emotive reasons to persuade the victim to send money.” It may sound unbelievable that there are people who fall for this type of scam but if a person finds his “soulmate” or believes he has, he is willing to do everything to make his partner feel him better. Even if that means sending him over a million dollars. In most cases, individuals must look critically at people they meet online and rarely trust them. Moreover, after they have been a victim to cyber crime change their behavior for the better and try to help other people who might be facing the same problem.


How social media affects people’s lives?

This question was asked on the site www.dabate.org and the results were impressive- 92% of people consider that social media has an impact on their lives. They comment that people “use it more instead of socializing with people in front of them” and “online everybody wants to be that estrange model and to be the coolest, most successful person on their newsfeed.” But why exactly do we act differently on social platforms like Facebook? And moreover, how does it how affect our mental health and well-being?

To begin with, all of us play many various roles, and behave differently in different social settings. Of course, that doesn’t mean that one of these roles is “true” while the others are false, instead we see different aspects of the same person in different situations. For example, a man acts a certain way while he is home- he is a loving and caring dad, and probably calm. On the other hand, at the office he is a completely different person- serious, professional and always in a hurry. “Most of the time people are behaving in ways that are natural for them, under the given circumstances.” However, sometimes people are not 100% honest in their Facebook posts. They usually post positive messages and photos where they are smiling and this creates the fake feeling that they are happy all the time. An interesting research from Utah reveals that users who didn’t know their Facebook friends face-to-face believed that “others had better lives” which led to lower self-esteem. In comparison, people who communicate with their relatives or close friends are known to have an elevated self-esteem according to Wilcox and Stephen’s study.

Social media impacts especially on lives of teenagers. “The adoption of the mobile phone by young people has been a global phenomenon in recent years. It is now an integral part of adolescents’ daily lives and is for the majority, the most popular form of electronic communication. In fact, the mobile phone has turned from a technological tool to a social tool.” states Marilyn Campbell in her article The impact of the mobile phone on young people’s social life. The article was published in 2005. Now, 10 years later it is proved that 60% of 13 to 19-year-olds admit to being “highly addicted” to their iPhones. Social media’s main advantage is that it unites people from different backgrounds, schools, countries. Everything could be found on the Internet: useful and not so useful information. As follows: imagine that a 13 year-old kid makes a Facebook account. Yes, it will be awesome because he will be able to communicate with his schoolmates but also, he will be exposed to the entire inappropriate content people share on their ‘walls’. Not only bad language but pornographic content as well. So after spending a few minutes evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of social media, which are more?

And why do we leave all task to our phones and computers. It’s not that it’s hard to do it b ourselves , it’s just that we have become so addicted to our devices that we don’t even consider the option of us doing things alone. Would you say that it is complicated to go to your friend’s house and enjoy a good old-fashioned conversation. Is it complicated to walk 5 minutes to the supermarket and do the shopping or calculate 12×23 by urselves. Of course not. But despite that we prefer our phone or computer to do. Not because it hard, just because it is one click away.

This post will have no conclusion. Instead, I will quote Gary Turk and let you answer the question for yourself:

“Are we a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people?’’