By MELANIE WU
Since the start of 2018, the number of school shootings have spiked to alarming numbers with 18 school shootings already, despite it being the second month of the year.
The horror of the outrageous amount of school shootings has been expressed all over various platforms. But the one question that is rarely addressed is: why? Why are teenagers inclined to perform such indecent acts? Well, with technology playing a bigger role in our lives, social media users are more prone to cyberbullying, which may be the cause of these recent school shootings.
There has been a significant increase in bullying, especially cyberbullying, since the technological inventions that emerged within the past ten years. This is because technological inventions come with more social media involvement, as it is easier to connect and chat with friends online. This opens more opportunities for cyber bullies to strike.
Let’s look at the facts. According to Pew Research Center, social media usage within young adults was at a minuscule 9% in 2005 and has since increased to a whopping 65% as of 2018. With an increase in social media usage, especially by young adults, cyberbullying has expanded.
Cyberbullying is more common because it is easier for perpetrators to hide behind a screen and insult others rather than doing so in person. It makes victims feel insecure or depressed which can cause pent up anger inside, eventually becoming a threat to public safety because that individual might feel the need to take the anger out.
With more students becoming victims of cyberbullying, the emotional impact can lead to violence and desire to harm others, which explains the intentions of the school shooters. Social media, the supposed platform for free speech and expressed thoughts, is no longer a safe zone, and that individual does not have a platform for their voice anymore. The bully has antagonized and emotionally affected the victim to a point where the helpless victim begins to live up to other people’s judgements. This becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, and the victims now turn against society and become the perpetrators themselves.
Whether or not school shooters have been mentally affected through online bullying is unclear, but it is apparent that more students are prone to becoming victims caused by the cyberbullying.
Some may argue that the growing social media scene comes with many benefits that outweigh cyberbullying. However this is not the case. As a matter of fact, it leads to the deaths of other people because it can emotionally affect someone to a point where they can inflict that pain onto others e.g. school shooters.
How can we solve this problem? One convenience of social media is that individuals are able to connect with many different people in a matter of seconds, without having to greet them face-to-face. Since this makes it easier for cyberbullies to hurt victims, we can use social media to our advantage. Instead of using it to put someone down, we can just as easily put them up. Taking a second to compliment someone can make their entire day, and this creates for more happiness all around.
Additionally, social media can be powerful in bringing attention to important topics. We can utilize this by bringing to attention the severe consequences of bullying. Many people are not aware of the repercussions that come with their actions and that their little “joke” can affect lives of other people. By bringing awareness to this issue, the amount of bullying will hopefully lessen and the amount of school shootings will decrease with it.
Ultimately, it is up to us, the experts on social media, to change this widespread problem. We live in the technological age where we have the power to bring someone up or down in a matter of seconds. With this, we have the power to lessen the amount of casualties caused by our very own devices by changing the way we use social media.
*Advisor note: These are the views of one and do not represent Paw Prints Weekly as a whole. This topic is extremely complex and cannot be properly analyzed in one article. Remember to report any suspicious behavior to authorities. *