No one is immune to getting cyberbullied — not even celebrities (and that includes their offspring, too).
Activist and author Amber Rose took to Instagram earlier this week to call out cyberbullies after trolls flocked to her comments section to make fun of her 5-year-old son Sebastian for being a Taylor Swift fan.
"Shout out to all the hyper-masculine men and ignorant dumb ass women that will call a five-year-old gay for liking Taylor Swift," she wrote. "This is why young kids kill themselves. And this is also why our society is so f*cked up."
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, children and teens have more ways than ever to share their lives with the world. But with the growth of technology comes a downside — cyberbullying.
According to data presented by the U.S. government, 9% of students in grades 6 through 12 have experienced cyberbullying, while 15% of high school students admitted to having been electronically bullied in the past year. When it comes to LGBTQ+ students who have been bullied online, that number rises to a horrendous 55.2%. Is social media to blame?
The cyberbullying problem persists across the pond as well, and takes place on Instagram, according to one survey, more than any other social media platform. Last summer, anti-bullying advocate Ditch the Label surveyed more than 10,000 British teens between the ages of 12 and 20 and found that 17% percent of respondents admitted to having been cyberbullied, the New York Daily News reports. While 31% say they were bullied on Snapchat, 37% reported that they’d experienced bullying on Facebook. Twitter and Tumblr, at 9% and 3%, respectively, accounted for the lowest amount of cyberbullying, while Instagram held the top spot at 42%.
Though it occurs online, cyberbullying continues to have devastating consequences IRL. As Newsweek pointed out, cyberbullying has been shown to negatively affect the mental health of victims. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics study found reported a "clear relationship between both bullying victimization and perpetration and suicidal ideation and behavior in children and adolescents." Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 4 and 17 who died between 2014 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent years, Instagram has taken steps in an effort to decrease instances of cyberbullying on the platform. In September, the company revealed that they had begun using algorithms to identify abusive comments, and introduced a new feature that would allow users to block entire groups of people at a time.
Said Instagram COO Marne Levine in a statement, “Kindness has been in the DNA of Instagram from our earliest days, and as our community grows — now to 800 million — we are working to make Instagram the kindest and most inclusive online community.”
[Photo: Amber Rose attends the Kat Von D Beauty Fragrance Launch Press Party #SAINTANDSINNER at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on June 20, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for KAT VON D BEAUTY)]