Bullying on social media becoming a 'trend'
PEOPLE in regional areas like Bundaberg are more likely to have witnessed bullying or harassment on social media than their metropolitan counterparts and are more than twice as likely to have been bullied themselves according to the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report.
Sensis Digital spokesman Rob Tolliday said more than eight in 10 people in regional areas are now using social media, driven by people's obsession with their smartphones.
But, in a worrying trend, people in regional Australia are more likely to have witnessed bullying or harassment on social media.
"While social media can keep us connected with family and friends, people need to know when to switch off," he said.
"Bullying is not acceptable in person or online and people should take action to protect themselves.
"You can ask the person to stop what they are doing, report the issue to the social media platform, or speak to authorities if it continues."
The 2017 study from digital expert Sensis, surveying 800 Australian consumers and 1,100 businesses, found that people in regional areas are more likely to use social media than those who live in cities (81% vs 78%).
They also have more contacts on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Snapchat, while people in metro areas have more friends on Facebook and LinkedIn.
"Having a higher number of social media contacts on these platforms may be leaving social media users in regional areas open to the risk of harassment from 'trolls',"Mr Tolliday said.
"People should remember they can always remove themselves from platforms or delete 'friends'; over the last year we have seen people in regional areas more likely to do that than people in metro areas (43% vs 36%)."
Nick Glozier, professor of Psychological Medicine at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney Medical School said research found that 40 to 49 year olds are the most likely to have been bullied or to have witnessed bullying online, highlighting that anyone can be a target and should take precautions.
"It's important harassment is dealt with quickly to avoid any possible long term psychological impacts," he said.
The report also found that social media usage in regional areas has jumped 10 points this year, driven by people's obsession with their smartphones.
"Excessive social media use may be re-wiring people's brains, with every like or retweet acting as a reward and releasing small doses of dopamine that leave us happy. As a result we adapt our behaviour to chase further chemical rewards within the brain, and feel craving like symptoms and anxiety when we can't get them," Professor Glozier said.
"A recent US study found that narcissism is on the rise among young people, as are anxiety and distress. No doubt social media is having a significant impact, as people feel pressure to compete in a fantasy world of posts that sometimes bear little resemblance to the reality of their day to day lives."
Other key statistics from the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report include:
- Almost six in 10 are now using social media in the bedroom, up from 42% to 59% this year, and rising to 94% among 18-29 year olds.
- Males (36% vs 27%) and 18-29 year olds (74% vs average of 31%) are more likely to make friends with strangers on social media. In terms of platforms, men dominate LinkedIn (22% vs 14%), Instagram (50% vs 41%), Twitter (35% vs 28%) and Snapchat (43% vs 36%), while women prefer Facebook (97% vs 91%)
- 63%of 18 to 29 year olds have been excited when their post has received more likes on social media than they expected
- Social media usage while on the toilet is now normal for 14% of the population. It is even more common among men (17% vs 12%) and 18-29 year olds (29%)
"Social media is breaking down long established social norms," Mr Tolliday said.
"Whereas it was once considered rude to be on your phone in public, it is increasingly seen as acceptable to check social media in almost any situation, with a third of 30-39 year olds happy to "phub" their family and friends at dinner."