By Aarohi Ghorpade
Social media is an inherent part of today’s social culture. It allows people to form communities, hosts discussions, supports efforts in advocating for issues one believes in, serves as entertainment, and several others. With that in mind, we must ensure that the digital environment in which users are engaging with each other is safe and inclusive. Although social media has its assets and liabilities, it has several downsides, one of the prominent ones being cyberbullying.
I use social media for socializing with my friends and interacting with others who may have similar interests as me. Therefore, I wanted to do my part to create an inclusive and safe environment promoting positive interactions. The Girl Scout Silver Award provided me with the motivation and guidance needed to put my ideas to action. As I did my research, I came `to realize that cyberbullying would not be an issue if the people who witnessed the bullying stood up for the victim instead of choosing to remain silent. I knew I had to raise awareness and educate the public about the bystander effect and how it can be harmful.
To accomplish this goal I conducted webinars, wrote articles (one was published in Girl Scout Connections and the other in the AZ India Times), and interviewed two Prevention Specialists from notMYkid, an organization that provides prevention, early intervention, behavioral health support, and wellness programs to youths and their families. In all these outlets, I made sure to stress the importance of advocating for victims of cyberbullying and the need for the establishment of clear guidelines by the government and/or the online platforms to ensure that such behavior is punished. Hopefully, with time, we can get closer to ensuring that cyberbullying is controlled, and users can feel safe in all digital spaces.