Topic 4

Topic 4: Social Media Ethics

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The advent of social networking sites has made all of us more connected and by doing so has allowed others to more easily contact each other. Some of those connections are positive but some are not.

The format of social networking we see today began in the late 90s with ‘Six Degrees’, a social networking site that allowed users to create profiles and connect with others through existing relationships or through mutual interests (Boyd et al. 2007). However, it wasn’t until 2004 when MySpace was launched that social networking really took off.

With so many children having their own phone, it’s no wonder that they are joining the world of social networking and are exploring the internet. Much like in Topic 2, it is hard to know who is online and the ability to post/comment online anonymously can create an environment where people can be abused. A study was carried out to assess what students in primary and secondary schools; used the internet for, how they interact with others and what about the internet is a concern for them. Below is data showing what technology students use:

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 18.49.38.png
Table taken from UK Safer Internet Centre study
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Screenshot taken from UK Safer Internet Centre study

Cyberbullying is a big concern for parents and teachers. With 40% of 7-11 year olds knowing someone that has been cyberbullied (Boyd et al., 2007) and 7 out of 10 young people aged 13-22 have been the victim of cyberbullying (Anon, 2015). Furthermore, 60% of children aged 13-18 were asked for a sexual image or video of themselves (NSPCC, 2014).

This kind of attitude to what is acceptable online is unfortunately a reality for young people but luckily there is some good news.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 21.14.07
Screenshot taken from study

The table to the left illustrates how many children were taught how to stay safe online whilst at school. Although this is not the case in every school, the fact that schools are beginning to introduce this is a step in the right direction. If this continues then this will lead to more young people knowing what to do to stop, block or report negative content that they find as well as help others who may be experiencing cyberbullying.

Hopefully, all children will be taught how to be safe online as part of their curriculum in order for cyberbullying to stop and attitudes towards what it acceptable behaviour online to change.

Below is a YouTube video on how to prevent cyberbullying:


Anon (2015) “Facts and statistics on bullying and cyber bullying

Boyd, D; Ellison, N. (2007) “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship“. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (Accessed 25th March)

Broadbent, H., Fell, L., Green, P., and Gardner, W. “Have your Say: Young people’s perspectives about their online rights and responsibilities, YouTube video: “How to Prevent Cyberbullying

NSPCC (2014) “Childline Review: What’s affected children in April 2013 – March 2014


Summit, Roy (2011) “Facebook domination vs MySpace fall: Data comparison” (Accessed 25th March)

Word Count: 392


15 thoughts on “Topic 4: Social Media Ethics”

  1. Hi Oliver,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post, I did mine on business use of social media as I was unsure how to discuss social media in education but you bring up an excellent point about cyberbullying. Back in Topic 2, myself and Alex actually had a discussion about the lack of support in schools about navigating the web and dealing with cyberbullies so I was interested to read about the study you included stating schools are slowly beginning to introduce lessons on online safety. In addition to making online awareness as part of the curriculum, this report ( argues that parents should also be taught about cyberbullying, which I totally agree with seeing as many parents probably don’t really understand it. Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    (Word count: 138)


    1. Hi Caiti,

      Thank you very much for your comment. I thought that this particular subject was worth mentioning and when I was conducting research found it encouraging that this is being taken a little more seriously by schools on a wider scale.

      In answer to your question, I do believe that parents should also be taught about cyberbullying because, if nothing else, they will be able to spot when it is actually happening as well as do something about it. If parents are taught about cyberbullying and the steps that they can take to stop or prevent it then it should hopefully mean that cyberbullying in general is less common.

      That being said, it does rely on children/students to be open about when they are being bullied and why they are. Part of the reason bullying never gets dealt with is due to the fact that children either feel embarrassed or don’t want to talk about it. I think as long as there is an environment in which students can be open about bullying then parents, teachers and even friends will be able to help a lot more.



  2. Hi Oliver,

    Thank you for a great read! Your varied use of statistics made your post educational.

    Cyberbullying is an ongoing problem that unfortunately will always exist due to the nature and actions available online. It’s nice to know that schools have increased their input in teaching students how to stay safe online and your video of how to avoid cyberbullying was very helpful. I believe it’s also important for children to learn about digital literacy as i mentioned on my post , because not only is it important to stay safe online but it’s important to not let social media affect an individual mentally (e.g. comparison issues).

    I find it disgusting that people use social media to sexually assault children; this article talks about a Justin Bieber imposter who was charged for 900 sex offences. What do you think can be done to stop actions of this sort?

    Ellie xo



    1. Hi Ellie,

      Thank you very much for your comments about the post.

      I have read that story and found it appalling that not only someone chose to do this and target children but was also able to do it in the first place. Avoiding those who are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people online is much more about knowing who to talk to online and who to avoid, like we discussed in Topic 2 with online identity.

      In this particular context, some social networking sites have ‘verified’ profiles or pages which are the official profiles made by celebrities. In the case of twitter, profiles have a blue tick next to it signifying authenticity and is explained fully here:

      In most cases this isn’t enough. I think that parents should be doing a little more to monitor their children’s online behaviour, younger children especially, so that they can step in when necessary. Obviously when children become older they won’t want their parents looking over their shoulders but should hopefully have been taught by schools and parents that not everything online is to be trusted.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Oliver
        I agree with you – if children are taught from young by both parents and schools then their risks of using the internet unsafely are reduced. I believe social media platforms should develop authenticity evaluations to be able to delete accounts which seem to be unreal. There are a lot of fake accounts using images found on the internet to attract people – for instance the whole ‘cat fish’ problem. See it here : This shows that fake profiles are a problem even for the older generation.
        Thanks for your reply!


  3. Hi Oliver,
    Thank you for your great blog post. I found the primary and secondary school study you included very insightful as i would never have thought that 56% of 7 year olds would be using the internet for social networking. This shocked me as I’m sure I had no idea what the internet even was at this age. Did any of these statistics particularly shock you? Throughout your post you included many interesting statistics and i thought this was great as it really put in perspective how bad cyber issues are and how many people they are actually affecting. It has alerted me to be a lot more aware. I liked how you included the video on safety at the end of your blog as it was something i could show my younger sister who may not have known the real dangers of the internet yet. Looking forward to your next post!
    Kind Regards


    1. Hi Cherie,

      Thank you for you comment on my blog.

      To be honesty, all of these statistics shocked me, the one that you have pointed out that even 7 year olds use social media was surprising but what was more shocking was that children that young had experienced cyberbullying, with 20% of 7-11 year olds saying that bullying stops them from having fun online.

      Much like you when I was that age I had no clue what the internet was let alone having access to a phone, web cam, social media and all of the technology available today. Which makes it only more important to teach young children how to interact safely online and know how to prevent bullying online. Thus, I included the video in order to help spread a simple message and means to stop cyberbullying.



  4. Hi Oliver,

    Thank you for your insightful blog post. The issue of cyber bullying and young people on the internet is a very interesting one. It’s good to see that policy progress has been made with more lessons about online security in schools and more resources available for young people online. I would like to raise the question of how you think anonymity can best be tackled on the internet? While encouraging blocking is a good measure, do you think more can be done to tackle those who are attempting to bully anonymously? Potentially through getting social media sites to help identify email addresses of users or through encouraging the use of platforms on which you have to give your identity to the platform, even if use beyond that appears anonymous?




    1. Hi Phil,

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      Unfortunately, I do not think that anonymity can be directly tackled on a lot of social media sites even though in this context it would help decrease cyberbullying and help stop such interactions. The point that you have raised may definitely work, if online platforms ask for a small amount of basic information in order to create a profile then those posting nasty comments would be more at risk to be disciplined in some way.

      Most people would say that blocking would be a good enough solution, however I think more can be done than that. Blocking someone online doesn’t really solve the issue, it just stops it coming your way from that particular profile. I think a much better solution, which may take longer, is reporting.

      Being able to report users who consistently try to bully people or post upsetting content can be completely removed from sites and if they were given a small amount of personal information at the beginning then this may result in that user never being able to join again.

      Let me know what you think about the following thoughts.



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