Technological advances have always signified human advances. They’ve always meant simpler lives. But then again, something is as significant. These advances have got the other side to them. These I believe forms a part of technological setbacks. Cyber-bullying.
This has become a characteristic feature of our modern day times. No one could’ve anticipated cyber-bullying. But now that we’ve got to live with it, we have got to deal with it.
Belsey (2007) defines cyber-bullying as involving “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm other.”
We’ve not been spared from this. Think of some derogatory comments on Facebook. I know that if such have never been directed towards you, you are likely to dismiss this as irrelevant. But those who’ve been victims know what that means. We’ll get back to these nasty aspects.
Brown et.al (2006) at SimonFraser University describe cyber-bullying in this way:
Children and adolescents have taken schoolyard bullying to an entirely new level utilizing the electronic medium to bully. Cyber-bullies use emails, text messaging, chat rooms, cellular phones, camera phones, websites, blogs and so on, to spread derogatory and ostracizing comments about other students, teachers and other individuals.
These are shocking realities. They’ve sneaked upon us. We’re a cyber-society. What we have now, could’ve only been dreamt of 50 years back. But the horrors of our reality are as frustrating. Some parents are very much unaware of these changes. Their teens are perpetrators or victims of cyber-bullying, right under their noses.
To further complicate matters, these youngsters have figured out ways of concealing their experiences with cyber-bullying. But then, how does it differ from old-fashioned traditional (face-to-face) bullying?
Bernie Froese-Germain in Bullying in the digital age: Using technology to harass Students and teachers highlights the following:
The perceived anonymity afforded by the computer- through for example the ability to assume alternative identities on the internet- reduces inhibitions and makes it difficult if not impossible to identify the cyberbully.
Cyber-bullying frequently takes place beyond school supervision boundaries (on home and other off-site computers) and outside school hours, however this does not lessen its poisonous impact on schools-as sheriff states, “although cyber-bullying begins anonymously in the virtual environment, it impacts learning in the physical school environment… it creates a hostile physical school environment where students feel unwelcome and unsafe.In such an atmosphere, equal opportunities to learn are greatly reduced.”
Hurtful damaging messages can be sent instantaneously at anytime to a very large audience; because they ‘live’ indefinitely in cyberspace,these messages have a recurring capacity to inflict harm on the victim.
We’ve seen these things. Have we? Facebook-ers saying some nasty things about others. There are some groups that by their virtue tell anyone of what they are about. Most of them have socially-unclean names. We’ve seen what political affiliates can do. They use social media to say “things” that should not be said. Put another way, social media has become platform for ridicule or humiliation.
It is clear that we need to stand guard. To fight against cyber-bullying, for the sake of the future.