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Caribbean Cruising – Haiti & Jamaica | Royal Caribbean

It’s not often that you can claim to have woken up in a different country four days in a row but that’s exactly what happened when Adam and I took to the seas and embarked on our first full length cruise, courtesy of Royal Caribbean. A quick plane ride (please note the sarcasm as this plane […]

Social Networks & Teenagers

posted by on 04/04/2012

The use of social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter and media sharing sites such as YouTube and Tumblr have certainly revolutionised the way news and information has been reported and shared within the last couple of years. Events from the London riots of last summer and Arab Spring through to the strategic use of YouTube by the charity Invisible Children to publicise their ‘Stop Kony 2012’ campaign this year have shown just how powerful such sites are becoming. We are now in an era where news is able to spread throughout not only the United Kingdom but the World within just seconds – a fact that has revolutionised the way we communicate not only news but our thoughts and feelings, websites such as Tumblr being a prime example.

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This outburst of social networking sites have also been taken on board by businesses and news corporations in a new and innovative way to engage with customers, listeners, readers and fans. This breaks the boundaries of day to day communications making it easier and quicker engage with others on similar levels of interest.

This sort of instant communication is great; naturally. We have become a generation of ‘speed’, ‘fast’ and ‘I-want-it-right-now’ whether we like it or not and such sites and media tools are simply aids in this. Not only that, but events such as The Arab Spring and The London Riots show exactly how, if used correctly, these sites prove to be even bigger than governments themselves.

While it is easy to admire the effects these sites have on media and communication, they also offer an ugly side. There has been a considerable growth in the use of these social networking sites for online bullying. The statistics are shocking; nearly one in five teens in the UK have been victims of cyber-bullying with girls being three times more likely than boys to be bullied online. It is obvious that this is a growing problem. With ways to stay anonymous online however, it seems that along with the growth in social networking sites for sharing of news and information, it is becoming the biggest way to share hateful and hurtful comments that cannot be traced back to the original sender – something that has caused the media to coin the term ‘online trolls’. A recent BBC3 programme – The Anti-Social Network – investigated this occurrence, a journey that led presenter, Richard Bacon, to come face to face with teens who had experienced online bullying, grieving families who had been victims of so called ‘RIP trolls’, Colm Cross – one of the few people who had been jailed for ‘internet trolling’ and come to a decision about his own personal online attacker. What is more shocking than the statistics however, is perhaps how these online bullies operate. Whilst we all remember those tedious ‘how to stay safe online’ lessons in school online risks have developed from the obvious ‘don’t give out any personal information’ as now so called ‘trolls’ are able to find victims through personal accounts such as facebook or twitter, making their comments more personal and more exaggerated.

It is hard to know if cyber-bullies understand the full implications of their online actions however. Celebrities and public figures are often discredited, talked about and ‘bullied’ by people on a daily basis – perhaps something that ‘comes with the territory or job’. It seems so common that this approach to celebrities has been filtered down to make it seem ok to make the same comments to a fellow classmate on their facebook wall or twitter account. This, of course, is not. What is worrying is how easy it is for these hateful comments to spread, so much so that it seems easier to spread the hate than to spread some love. What makes it so difficult for us to do that? While bullying is something that teens have been faced with for a long time, this new approach is almost sinister. Social networking sites have proved to be powerful sources not only in everyday life but through times of revolution yet cyber-bullying and ‘online trolls’ highlight exactly the ugly side to the rise in social networking and media sharing sites.