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Be careful how you use it


Despite a global increase in the awareness of cyberbullying at least a quarter of adults have still not heard of it.

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THE INFLUENCE and power social media has is absolutely amazing. Ever since the inception of social media it has broken as well as made many people.

Some people use it for good while others use it for evil. The number of young people committing suicide is on the rise.

According to studies, despite a global increase in the awareness of cyberbullying at least a quarter of adults have still not heard of it.

An Ipsos Global Advisor study conducted earlier this year and carried out in 28 countries, including South Africa, found that even though awareness had gone up by nine percent from 2011, the majority of parents believed that anti-bullying measures were insufficient.

The study defined cyberbullying as when a child or group of children, under the age of 18, intentionally intimidate, offend, threaten or embarrass another child or group of children, specifically through the use of information technology. South Africa was recently hit by chilling images and videos of children bullying each other which went viral on social media.

According to the study – which was conducted online and therefore represented the views of those who regularly had access to the internet, South Africa ranked the second highest (88%) in the awareness of cyberbullying, after Sweden and Italy (91%) respectively.

It also found that at least one in three parents globally reported knowing a child in their community who had been cyberbullied. Among the countries that were surveyed, South Africa showed the highest prevalence of cyberbullying, based on over half of the parents who knew of a child in their community who had been a victim of cyberbullying. The figure showed an increased of 24% from 2011.

Of the South Africans who participated in the survey, a quarter said their own children were cyberbullied.

The US also saw an upturn in parents reporting their child had been cyberbullied, up to 27% more this year than in 2011. However, parents in Japan and Russia were least likely to report knowing a child in their community who had been cyberbullied.

And you just then have to convert these figures into the amount of children who have committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

Then we just have to look at the other side of the spectrum where social media has worked for the good as in the case of Momentum.

After days of being bashed on social media for refusing to pay out Denise Ganas’ claim against her husband Nathan’s life insurance, Momentum Life on Tuesday announced that it has backtracked on its original decision and will now pay out the R2.4 million claim to the widow.

The consensus among South Africans on Twitter and Facebook was that this case was a classic example of social activism at work, as well as the powerful role that social media plays in holding big business to account.

Did social media also play a big part in the final downfall of Malusi Gigaba? We all know about the infamous sex video which went viral. However, if that video had not been leaked would he have stepped down anyway? Maybe he would have tried to buy himself more time if not for this slip of his.

As a result of all of this social media laws have also been changed and you have to watch what you put out there otherwise you might just be the one that goes viral.

Good or bad, we all need social media in our lives but be very careful how you use it.