Is YouTube Responsible for the Rise in Cyberbullying?

Oct 22, 2016

I’m so glad cyberbullying on YouTube was not a factor when my oldest son got into his first fight. He was 10 years-old and during a food fight in the cafeteria another 10-year-old threw an apple at him. The yelling began, then shoving and then the two boys were rolling around on the cafeteria floor. The school just happened to get it on video so I could watch. It was your typical pre-teen fight. Both boys were suspended for two days to calm themselves. One week later they were friends again and it was like it never happened.

But, that was before every kid had a cell phone and cyberbullying on YouTube was a serious threat. Thinking back on that video, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened between my son and his on-again, off-again friend had that video been uploaded to YouTube. If that video had been live streamed, watched 2,000 times on YouTube and open for comment from strangers, would he and his friend have mended their friendship? Or, even worse could he, or his friend, have become a victim of video cyberbullying?

I don’t know if these things would have happened because they didn’t, but I’m sure glad this was not our experience. Many people don’t believe cyberbullying can happen on a video platform. But all one needs to do is got to YouTube and search for “kids fighting” or check the comments on any video that’s even remotely political to see thousands of instances of cyberbullying. Malicious, racist and sexist comments, kids beating each other up while adults cheer them on and videos made with the sole intent of dehumanizing another person are plentiful on YouTube.

With live streaming, the ability to stop cyberbullying on YouTube becomes more difficult. Moments that at one time were considered private, can become public fodder for the masses to watch and comment on in a matter of seconds.

The website NoBullying.com describes YouTube this way:

Youtube bullying is very much like an ad campaign. A person with a drive to be mean to another human being can upload something vicious and share with millions of people. It does not matter if this information is legitimate or not.

Not to mention that unlike schoolyard bullying where one can pinpoint the bully, cyberbullying can be a crime with seemingly no aggressor. Unless an internet filter is being used to stop cyberbullying by blocking malicious content, a bully can comment on a video or upload a video behind a fog of fake email address and usernames.

As always, awareness is the first step toward preventing cyberbullying, or any bullying. Here are some behaviors that constitute cyberbullying on YouTube and other video streaming platforms.

  • Uploading malicious videos - Any video that depicts another person in a way that can be damaging to their lifestyle is considered cyberbullying. Videos that are threatening, are uploaded without the consent of the individuals in the video and include hateful or offensive speech and/or information are considered cyberbullying.
  • Leaving malicious comments on videos - Comments that include mean or hurtful talk about someone’s looks, gestures, gender or ideas is cyberbullying.
  • Revealing private moments - Uploading videos of an individual without their consent and during a moment when they assume they are in private is cyberbullying.

The best way to prevent cyberbullying among children and adults is to install parental control software on all your home’s devices. Net Nanny not only blocks malicious and inappropriate content, it also sends out alerts when content that is inappropriate is suspected on a device. This keeps parents ahead of the curve when it comes to preventing cyberbullying.

YouTube is not the only video platform where cyberbullying can occur. With the rise of media like SnapChat, Periscope, Facebook Live and others, cyberbullying will only get worse if we aren’t aware of it’s effects and diligent about speaking up when we witness it.