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Apps with anonymity spark concern for cyberbullying

One in every three children is bullied in some form. Out of those children, more than half reported being cyberbullied, according to the Megan Meier Foundation, a foundation that helps end cyberbullying.

In February of 2008 only 8 percent of Americans were on social media. Since January of 2014, according to the Pew Research Center, more than 72 percent of online American adults use some form of social networking site. This increase of technology use and constant connection to others over the Internet has created new dangers in the form of cyberbullying.

With more than 1.15 billion people using the social media network per month, Facebook has the highest cyberbullying rates, according to nobullying.com, an organization focused on cyberbullying prevention.

Two of the newest and “most dangerous” apps connected to cyberbullying are Yik Yak and Ask.fm. These apps allow users to post comments, statements and questions anonymously, creating even larger outlets for cyberbullying.

Cara Holt, a freshman at John Brown University, grew up in Siloam Springs and watched many of her classmates suffer from cyberbullying.

“Ever since social media became so much more accessible, people think they can get away with saying anything because it is easier now,” Holt said.

Sadly, cyberbullying does not end with high school. One of Holt’s friends, a current student at JBU, was victimized by the Yik Yak app.

“Cyberbullying should not be acceptable or tolerated anywhere,” Holt said.

Holt believes that with each new social media addition, more efforts should be made to combat cyberbullying by educating people on the repercussions of cyberbullying.

“Many times, people don’t realize how easily it happens and how potentially hurtful they might be,” Holt said.

Julie Hofer, a freshman kinesiology major said, “Cyberbullying is a classic example of one person lifting themselves up by putting another person down and the only difference is the bullies have the luxury of hiding behind a computer screen.”

Hofer highlighted the divides that cyberbullying causes between families.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, only one in six parents are aware of their child being cyberbullied, while reports state that 95 percent of teens are either experiencing cyberbullying firsthand or are watching it play out around them.

In the past six years, the numbers of reported cyberbullying cases has risen from one in seven children being bullied to one in three, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Each year the number of reported cyberbullying cases continues to increase, not including the hundreds of unreported cases.