Dear A.S.S. Editor

The clip of the boy caught making an offensive sign during the broadcast of the National Day Parade went viral via social media. It is good that he was later repentant. However, once a video clip is uploaded to social media, especially popular platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, there is little chance of it being removed and forgotten.

How will the child feel? How would he react to a bunch of negative comments? Children should be disciplined when they do something wrong, but they should not be criticised online. This can be harmful to a child, owing to social media’s impact, and might result in destructive behaviours or unthinkable outcomes. Cyberbullying is the latest form of bullying, which is one of the worst teenage problems, affecting millions of youth.

Their mental health and studies may deteriorate and, in the process of undergoing puberty, they might be unable to handle the situation positively. This would lead to mental issues, self-inflicted pain or worse, suicidal thoughts. The Singapore Children’s Society and the Institute of Mental Health studied data involving over 3,000 students aged 12 to 17 years in 2014, and found that victims of cyberbullying were associated with a higher level of self-harm. So everyone should be mindful of the impact he or she can have on social media. Negative comments can turn a minor setback into a dark path for a child. That is how important words can be.

I hope that Singapore can be a more understanding society, and social media a friendlier platform. As long as the child admits his mistake and learns from it, we should forgive, without forgetting the takeaway lesson.

Lam Xin Yi (Writing for TODAY Online)

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