In October of 2012, thirteen year old student Erin Gallagher took her life after receiving an abundance of malicious comments through the anonymous social media website, Ask.fm. In December of 2012, fifteen year old sister of Erin, Shannon Gallagher, committed suicide due to her inability to live without her sister. In the United States alone, many families experienced the same tragedy that occurred with the Gallaghers (Mosbegen). According to the Megan Meier Foundation’s statistics about cyber-bullying, around fifty-three percent of adolescents admitted to saying mean and hurtful comments to peers through social media.
This leads to the belief that a much larger percentage of adolescents who committed cyber-bullying actions exist, but refuse to admit it. Additionally, one in three mentioned participating in the cyber-bullying more than once (Bullying, Cyberbullying & Suicide Statistics).The increase in suicides amongst adolescents in recent years correlates to the new trend of ephermal or anonymous social media.
THE SWITCH TO EPHERMAL AND ANONYMOUS SOCIAL MEDIA
Ephermal social media, a term originated by Washington Post writer Cecilia Kang, means that content lasts for either short periods of time or lacks any association with the user; popular social mediums such as snapshot centered Snapchat and the anonymous communication website, Ask.fm exemplify the idea of the ephermal app. Why have adolescents made the transition from the slowly declining social media giant Facebook, Twitter and other profile-based social medias? As Erik Qualman, expert in digital media and future trends, said, “What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
But teenagers are realizing that it doesn’t have to stay on Snapchat,” (Kerp. ..
Kang, Cecilia. “Seeking Privacy, Teens Turn to Anonymous-messaging Apps.” Washington Post.
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Mosbergen, Dominique. “Shannon Gallagher, Teen Sister Of Cyberbullying Suicide Victim, Takes Own Life.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.
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“National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
” Social Media Guidlines. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
Slonje, Robert, Peter Smith, and Ann Frisen. “The Nature of Cyberbullying, and Strategies for Prevention.” Computers in Human Behavior 29.1 (2013): 26-32. Academic Search Premier. Web.
Terebin, Mark. Interview. Ask.fm. Ask.fm, n.