Bullying has affected the average kid or teenager in many negative ways for years now. Bullying has become a more aggressive way for one person to hurt another. There is more than one way to hurt someone, they do not have to attack them physically. Social media has become a mainstream path to allow bullying over a screen. Kids and teenagers in the past couple of decades are and have been exposed to the expectations and what has now become the reality of our societies. It has become a very big issue in the US, but the US is not the only country with technology and social media issues. South Korea has also had issues with social media, bullying, body image, and suicide.
Bullying is a form of intimidation to hurt another person. The person that is bullying usually picks on someone who is weaker. Being weaker does not necessarily have to mean that they are physically weaker or smaller than the person. Being the ‘weaker person’ can mean not being as popular as the other person, or someone who is in a harder position than the other. Sometimes the bully is the person who is hurt in the first place and they are just trying to make themselves feel better. No matter what the circumstances are or what the reasoning behind it is, bullying is inexcusable. Bullying can take many forms, whether it be verbal, physical, or social. Bullying usually occurs while in school but unfortunately now with technology there is no limit as to where bullying can take place. It can follow a student back to their home. A home should be a safe place but that is no longer the case if the bully is able to access the kid on social media. Social media has not only become a place to embarrass and harass others, but it has also become a tactic to spread the image of what ‘beauty’ is. For many companies, the target audience has become teenagers. For a while, and still sometimes today, to be thin is to be beautiful in the eyes of underage girls. Underage boys have also had to deal with the pressure of have to ‘look good enough’ by being muscular. These ideas have allowed the opportunity for bullies to shame others for their body and what they look like. It does not come to a surprise that being a bully and being bullied can cause psychological problems in the long term. Common psychological issues that may be caused by bullying, social media, and body image is depression and eating disorders. For some people, it can even go as far as suicidal thoughts and feelings. Over time, campaigns, posters, and movies have been made to spread awareness because of how serious and detrimental the effects of bullying have been on teenagers. The rates of suicide and mental illnesses have shot through the roof as bullying has become more common in many countries.
In the United States, the idea and thought of committing suicide is becoming more common due to bullying and social media. According to U.S. national data, in 2002 suicide was the third highest cause of deaths in young adults (Alavi, et al. 2017). The worries of body image and reaching the expectations of others has taken control over lives. In a case study, it was shown that bullying has negative effects on everyone involved whether they were the bully or a victim of it. Both parties showed symptoms in eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, binge eating, and bulimia. A lot of bullies tend to regret what they have done after the fact, knowing that they were terrible to someone who did not deserve it. They also already tend to have personal issues so the regret and guilt of putting someone else down usually follows them and makes them feel worse. Feeling bad about oneself can drive them to pick up bad eating habits. For the victim, when they are body shamed, the comments the bully has made to them is now driven into their mind. For most teenagers it is hard seeing models on social media, worrying about whether their body is good enough to post, and thinking that they are too thin or too fat. Problems like this lead to boys and girls using photoshop to edit their body to appeal to others around them on popular apps such as Instagram. When someone tells them horrible things about their body they begin to question themselves. Comments on weight and body image can also cause body dysmorphia, and make the victim believe that their body is worse off than it is. It can also lead to eating disorders. Not only has bullying and social media made it hard to accept oneself in their own body, but it has also increased the chances of depression. It is not an easy task to be happy without feeling good and loving what is seen in the mirror every morning. Anxiety is also another illness that is common due to the uncertainties and fears of what everyone else is thinking. It was shown in the study that eating disorders, depression, and anxiety were common and increased whether someone was a bully or a victim. In the United States, social media has had negative effects on body image, bringing consequences to both the victim and the bully. (Copland, et al., 2015).
Along with the United States, South Korea has also had issues with social media and bullying, but they are striving in a different way to find an answer on how to avoid bullying in the first place. South Korea and Asia in general is one of the most technological and up to date areas in the world. They are currently booming right now. They are making a lot of money but one of the ways they are making money is with plastic surgery. Some of the best plastic surgeons in the world are in South Korea, and it is encouraged to get plastic surgery in Asia. Although it has not necessarily been talked about a lot, there are bound to be young adults who have become self-conscious about their self-image and find themselves dreaming of getting plastic surgery one day to fit society’s needs. Like the United States, bullying in general and on social media is one of the biggest problems in South Korea. The difference is that unlike the United States, they are trying to dive deeper into the problem and find ways to stop bullying from the beginning. Adolescence is important when forming a person’s character. It is important because the mind is still developing. Based off a study in 2015, parental attachment is crucial. The evidence has shown that having a good relationship between a child and the parents decreases the chances of bullying. The child feels more secure about themselves because they have support coming from the people they care about most. It is also important for the child to be in a quality school and to be engaged with the teachers so that the child may feel safe and will have less issues with fellow students. Having a support system behind a child will help in the long run to not have negative and aggressive emotions towards themselves and others, thus making it less likely that they will want to harm others. Another important reason schools must be more supportive in this area is because educational achievements are very important. The weakness in South Korea is not only body image, but it is also self-image about one’s background and education. The society as a whole, although overcoming many obstacles and becoming very successful, needs to learn how to be more empathetic towards students. People make mistakes. It is unfair that someone should want to kill themselves for feeling ashamed about failing once or twice in their life. Hopefully this will change. In the future, with help from empathic parents, family members, and teachers, the bullying and suicide rate should go down in the next couple of decades.
The United States and South Korea have both had to deal with the misfortunes of bullying and self-image. Even though they are approaching it differently, both countries are working to bring the bullying and suicide rates down. Until then, based on research, social media is not always a good thing. It can be used to bully and hurt others, affecting everyone in the long run.