These days our whole day is spent online. Working, Zoom calls, and school have turned our attention closer towards our computers more than ever before.
Kids especially are living their lives online and it’s caused cyberbullying to take a larger toll on their mental health.
“It’s definitely the most common, probably one of the top common triggers that we hear kids say for the reasons they are presenting to the hospital,” said Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital Child Psychiatry Counsel Services Chief Dr. Jennifer Rapke.
Bullying has become more intense online than it ever was in person. Social media has allowed kids to take on a persona that they might not have in real life.
“They say things they would never say if they had to say it in person and it takes it to this whole other level. I don’t want to be too graphic but kids have literally talked to us about having someone say ’You should just go kill yourself, Why don’t you just die? Nobody wants you here.’ And it’s really jarring to hear someone say something like that because they probably wouldn’t say that to someone’s face in real life,” said Rapke
Health experts say bullying is usually ongoing, causing prolonged stress, depression, and anxiety. The pandemic has only heightened those feelings.
“There is this weird combination of the bullying and the isolation because they are continuing to have experiences of bullying online. At the same time they do not have as much access to people that are supportive or that they would normally spend time with, or feel comforted by. I think it’s an ugly mix of things that is making it worse,” said Rapke.
To get a better understanding on the effects of cyber bullying, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is hosting a virtual screening of the documentary “The Upstanders.”
It features first-hand accounts of kids and teens who experience bullying and experts who explain the brain-science behind it. Experts say there is hope that things are getting better.
“We are seeing an increase in what the movie talks about, which is upstanders or bystanders. They are more willing to step in and intervene and support,” said Rapke.
The free screening is Wednesday at 7 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the film. To attend, you must register online.