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Why We Need To Call Men Into The Conversation On Cyberbullying

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At SMWLA, Unilever hosted a cyberbullying debate and discussed what brands, consumers, and social networks can do to beat bullying.

Did you know that 61% of guys in the U.S. have witnessed negative comments about appearance posted online?

At Social Media Week Los Angeles, Axe, Unilever’s leading male grooming brand, hosted a cyberbullying debate with exclusive insights from a new U.S. report entitled ‘The Bullying Crisis’.

The study followed previous research, also by Axe and Promundo, which revealed that most men feel pushed to live in a “Man Box”, which include being self-sufficient, acting tough, looking physically attractive, sticking to rigid gender roles, being heterosexual, having sexual prowess, and using aggression to resolve conflicts.

Taveeshi Gupta, Consultant, International Development, who led the study opened the session with a key observation that not enough is being done to call men into a conversation on bullying.

Some key stats from the latest research highlighted:

  • 2 in 5 guys have experienced appearance-related cyberbullying
  • More than 3 in 5 guys have witnessed negative comments on social media
  • 94% of guys like it when someone steps in to stop bullying
  • But, only 1 in 3 guys actually stepped in to stop bullying

“There are downfalls to the internet and social media. As a society we were not prepared for it” Liam Hackett, Founder & CEO, Ditch the Label.

It seems that social media sites are not fun unless you get to make fun of someone, Gupta had observed during the research.

Young people need critical skills for the internet

Social media is incredibly addictive and hours a day are spent checking social media sites.

As leader of one of the largest anti-bullying charities in the world, Hackett believes that we are giving our young people a huge disservice – because we are giving them access to a world of information [via the internet], without giving them critical skills they need to distinguish between fact and fiction.

In the process, they are making grave mistakes. They are following influencers and using their aspirational lifestyles as an unrealistic benchmark. In turn, this is impacting on their mental health and self-esteem which is more likely to create bullying-type behaviors.

We need to be training people to use social media and develop critical skills to decipher the online world, he added.

Rik Strubel, Unilever Global Vice President who is leading the transformation of Axe / Lynx to become the world’s single most adored male grooming brand for GenZ, confirmed the value of the research as it helps to inform how to deliver communication to the audience.

Strubel also shared Unilever’s pledge to withdraw ads from platforms like Google and Facebook if they do not do enough to police content that is impacting gender stereotypes in advertising and only investing in platforms that make a positive contribution to society.

Brands have the ability to address a large audience and hold a responsibility to help with issues such as bullying, confirmed Strubel.

Changing behaviors?

Technology and youth attitude are changing at such a rapid pace; parents are losing touch and are feeling overwhelming by what their children are up to online.

Hackett summarised: Technology may change, but behaviors don’t. Cyberbullying is quite often seen as a separate issue, but we see as it an expansion of an issue that has gone on for such a long period of time.

It’s important to know that the reason you are being targeted is nothing that’s unique about you, it’s because the person who is perpetrating those behaviors has their own issues and by bullying, they are just not dealing with it in the best way.

We need to call men into the conversation on cyberbullying, raise awareness, provide support and all play our role in ending the crisis.

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