› Ask yourself:
When surfing the Internet you need to be aware of your safety and security. You probably know how to make optimal use of your computer, mobile phone and tablet. You also need to distinguish between responsible online behavior and the legal, psychological and emotional consequences of irresponsible, hurtful online behavior. Cyberbullying, a harmful online behavior, is a growing international phenomenon.
Imagine coming home from school, grabbing a snack, turning on your computer only to discover numerous hurtful comments and several pictures of you at awkward moments during the last few days. You feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the hurtful messages and pictures. You are crushed, sad and angry because you thought you had lots of friends. Why would they do this to me? What's wrong with me? You feel vulnerable and exposed in your own room, your safe haven from the world. And you don't know who sent this mean, hurtful, nasty junk. How can you react when your attackers are unknown? How can you return to school when you are sure that everyone has seen or heard about what happened? How can you be interested in hanging out with friends at the mall, the park or Cineplex? Who can you really trust? Should you tell anyone? Who? How do you complete your schoolwork when a knot in your stomach makes it impossible to concentrate? Your nights are restless with the cruel words and images racing through your mind. How do you deal with your already busy life with this additional burden of anxiety and stress?
In the twenty-first century rapidly changing technologies are transforming many aspects of our daily lives. These new technologies, software and innovative applications are an integral, important, ubiquitous part of your world. Cyberspace is a hectic, busy place:
Think about how you use technology:
Exploring and embracing the many positive benefits of modern technology is great. But participating in online activities and communities also comes with responsibilities and consequences.
For example, for most of you, the day you pass the driver's test is a monumental occasion. Driving provides a sense of freedom, not having to rely on others and the key to new occupational and recreational experiences. But drivers are also expected to drive safely, know and obey the motor vehicle laws for their province or state. Hopefully they will also adhere to many courteous and thoughtful driving behaviours. Failure to follow these laws can result in citations, fines and suspended licenses. Reckless and dangerous driving behaviour too often results in death.
When surfing the Internet you also have to be aware of your safety and security. You need to distinguish between responsible online behavior and the legal, psychological and emotional consequences of irresponsible, hurtful online behaviour.
Cyberbullying, a harmful online behaviour is a growing international phenomenon among people your age. There are numerous definitions of cyberbullying. Some are broad definitions that include almost every possible type of online harassment. Others are specific examples of hurtful behavior. A Google search for "cyberbullying definitions" located over 600,000 hits. The search included definitions for young people, parents, teachers, Wikipedia information, dictionary examples e.g. Oxford, Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and legal definitions.
Source: Getty Images
Cyberbullying: Sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the Internet or other digital technologies. These online communications can be vicious. Cyberbullying can be 24/7. Damaging text and images can be widely disseminated and impossible to fully remove. Teens are reluctant to tell adults for fear of overreaction, restriction from online activities, and possible retaliation by the cyberbully.
Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.
Harassment: Harassment occurs when an individual or a large group repeatedly sends distasteful, hurtful messages to one targeted individual.
Denigration: Denigration is spreading gossip or making up rumors, posting or sending materials that are untrue or cruel. The intention is to disrupt friendships or harm the reputation of a person.
Impersonation: Impersonation occurs when a young person obtains or knows someone’s password to an Internet account. Masquerading as the owner of the password the impersonator has the means to say or post harmful words or materials that could ruin a reputation or disrupt friendships.
Outing and Trickery: Outing is sharing publically personal information or images to embarrass an individual. Trickery, a component of outing, occurs when the target believes the personal information or image in an email or text sent to one person or a select group of friends and will not be forwarded to others.
Exclusion/Ostracism: Being a member of numerous social media sites or online games is common with many young people. For many reasons an individual can easily be excluded or dropped from a group. Not belonging or being an outcast from an online social group can have a devastating impact on a young adolescent or teenager.
Flaming: Flaming involves the exchange of cruel, rude, insulting, crude and sometimes threatening exchanges between two individuals or small groups. These arguments usually take place in a public domain such as discussion boards of games. Sometimes bystanders try to end or escalate the argument.
Happy Slapping: Happy slapping involves the recording, usually on a mobile phone, of an assault on an individual or a fight. The video is circulated so that anyone in a school or community can witness the physical altercation.
Cyber stalking: Cyber stalking occurs when an individual or small group repeatedly sends hurtful, threatening, intimidating or extremely distasteful messages to another person. The sender(s) wants to degrade the target, by damaging his or her reputation and current friendships. The intimidating messages are sent through personal communications although the stalker may try to hide his or her identity. Cyber stalking sometimes occurs after an angry breakup or the termination of a friendship.
Almost anyone can be cyberbullied, from the most popular outgoing teenager to quiet timid individuals who barely make an impression on their classmates. Shariff (2008) reports that teachers, administrators and school support staff have also been victimized by cyberbullying. Similar to traditional bullying, cyberbullying victims are often perceived as being different. Some do not or cannot adhere to any of the current trends in clothing. Others are not associated with a certain group e.g. a sports team, the skate boarders or a dance group. Students who struggle with learning or have behavioral issues are more likely to experience cyberbullying. (Hinduja and Patchin, 2012) Twice as many lesbian, gay, and transgendered (LGBT) students than heterosexual students experience cyberbullying.
In Nova Scotia - Rehtaeh Parsons
In British Columbia - Amanda Todd
In Saskatchewan - Todd Loik
Bullying and cyberbullying are both acts of aggression. Both often take place without the knowledge and supervision of adults. These acts of aggression can occur over a period of time. Cyberbullying and bullying are about relationships and individuals with unequal amounts of power.
|Takes place when a more powerful person attacks a less powerful victim.||Victim worries about parents, teachers and other adults overreacting and taking away or placing restrictions on their mobile phones, computers, tablets and Internet access. Not being able to communicate or socialize with their friends, would cause you to feel cut off from your world; is like sucking cyber oxygen out of your life.|
|The attack can be physical: hitting, kicking, pushing, wrestling, verbal: name calling, insulting, put-downs, or psychological: spreading rumors, social exclusion or extortion.||A perpetrator of cyberbullying does not have to be physically or verbally intimidating and is typically anonymous.|
|The individual or group of bullies is known to the victim.||The cyberbully does not observe the suffering or pain of the target and does not receive immediate feedback about his or her hurtful actions.|
|Takes place in and around schools with some bystanders observing the bullying.||Perpetrators do not believe they will be identified and punished therefore they can act in more cruel ways online.|
|Content can remain on the Internet for an extended period of time.|
|Social media such as Facebook, YouTube, websites and smart phones are common venues and mediums.|
Victims of bullying are often reluctant to talk about their experiences because they perceive the bullying might become worse. It is critical to learn and understand the consequences of cyberbullying and especially the local laws against it.
Create an online survey dealing with cyberbullying within your school. Ask questions to find out what students know about the nature of cyberbullying, personal experiences with cyberbullying, and the many consequences of this online behavior. Include questions about their gender, age, and use of technology but have the students remain anonymous. Compare your findings with the other reports. How would you account for any significant differences?
In a small group design a Venn diagram that illustrates the differences and similarities of traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Share your diagram with other groups.
In the 21st century with the pervasive nature of technology, cyberbullying is a challenge for you and your peers. This behavior that often takes place in non-school settings can have a negative influence on learning and a school's atmosphere. There is not a "silver bullet" solution for addressing this online behavior. Rather it requires a pro-active response that enables you to become a responsible digital citizen. Responsible digital citizens know about privacy and invading other people's privacy. They carefully guard their personal information such as their name, cell number, home and e-mail addresses. Personal information about relationships or problems shared online can leave you in a vulnerable position. Responsible digital citizens know how and with whom to discuss intimate information.
Work with a partner as an Internet Security Specialists. List a number of practical strategies for protecting your identity when working on the Internet. Design a pamphlet creatively outlining your ideas for other students.
In democratic societies there are a number of laws to protect citizens. There are also protections for their freedoms and rights. What happens when you are in cyberspace? How are you protected? What are your rights? A responsible digital citizen has knowledge about the laws, freedoms and rights in virtual environments. There is a developing body of work taking place dealing with the legal issues addressing cyberbullying, its impact on young people and learning in schools.
Although the laws in many countries stem from British Common Law, emerging laws relating to cyberbullying vary in different countries. Young people and teachers have an opportunity to investigate together how the law in their country, province or state addresses cyberbullying. Shariff (2008) suggests that together they can develop a legal literacy. You can come to understand which forms of cyberbullying would be addressed by civil law (a private case between two parties) or a criminal law (crimes against the state).
Just saying, " I didn't know…." is not good enough for when someone is confronted with the legal consequences of his or her acts of cyberbullying. Responsible citizens know they are accountable for their actions in cyberspace.
Learn about the laws and regulations regarding cyberbullying in your school district, province/state and the federal laws. Then create a dramatic presentation dealing with a trial of an individual accused of being a cyberbully. Your audience should be able to clearly understand:
Different students play different roles e.g. the perpetrator, the target, lawyers, witnesses, the judge etc. The drama should clearly demonstrate to the audience how the laws apply to cyberbullying and the consequences for inappropriate online behavior.
Netiquette is a code of behavior people follow in online environments.
Young people abiding to these social guidelines respect other people’s rights and well-being.
Read the following paragraphs and decide who is demonstrating responsible online behavior:
A “technical genius” or hacker needs to keep in mind the numerous Internet security specialists around the world who have successfully developed sophisticated procedures for detecting the identity of online participants. Ultimately he or she will get caught and there will be consequences because cyberbullying is against the law.
An analogy of the consequences of impulsive behaviour is the case of Laura and James who decided to get matching tattoos. Two years later they both regretted their hasty decision. Tats can sometimes be removed but it is often an expensive painful experience.
Think long-term about what you post or say online! Some online images can become a source of shame and embarrassment, particularly when they cannot be removed.
Digitally responsible citizens develop and adhere to a netiquette that guides their online communication, and behaviors.
Locate several netiquette Web resources online. In small groups develop your own code of online behaviour.
The Internet is a powerful tool to enhance learning, thinking, communicating and socializing. Responsible digital citizens know how to behave ethically while using technology to enhance their lives.
A. Cyberbullying 411
- Answers questions about cyberbullying.
B. Cyber Mentors
- Offers assistance for victims of bullying and cyberbullying.
- Encourages teens to become responsible digital citizens.
- Strategies for fighting cyberbullying
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