Is Cyberbullying really necessary?

CyberBullyingCyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

i.          Use alcohol and drugs

ii.          Skip school

iii.          Experience in-person bullying

iv.          Be unwilling to attend school

v.          Receive poor grades

vi.          Have lower self-esteem

vii.          Have more health problems

A new film called ‘Unfriended’ which details a group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

Everything happens from the perspective of a teenage girl looking at her laptop and jumping from Skype to YouTube to Facebook and so on. It’s a gimmick that works better than it has any right to, and would feel fresher if “Modern Family” hadn’t wrung a lot of comedy out of it earlier this year.

Information regarding the dead girl’s traumatic past is subtly revealed in a chat window, as someone waffles about what she wants to say, typing and retyping the words until she finds a suitably cryptic explanation. The film trailor can be found here.

The protagonists of the film, who are participating in a group video chat on Skype, are haunted around the Web by a presumed-dead girl named Laura Barnes. Laura committed suicide under mysterious circumstances exactly one year before the day “Unfriended” is set, after she was mercilessly cyberbullied over an embarrassing video posted online.

In the UK, a reported 22% of children and young people claim to have been the target of cyberbullying making this one of the most important new areas of behaviour to understand and to equip schools, care-givers, and young people with the ability to respond.

There are organisations like ‘The Cybersmile Foundation’ which is a multi award-winning anti cyberbullying non-profit organisation. Committed to tackling all forms of digital abuse and bullying online, they work to promote diversity and inclusion by building a safer, more positive digital community.

Their mission is a simple one; we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy being part of the new connected online world. Regular and productive use of the Internet has become essential to a healthy social and personal development.

Through education and the promotion of positive digital citizenship organisations like The Cybersmile Foundation can reduce incidents of cyberbullying and through other professional help support victims and their families to regain control of their lives.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying and digital abuse is increasing, holding many back from enjoying the benefits that this connected community can provide. Our current online environment lacks the balance and social rules of engagement that have been cultivated over generations, governing the behavior and relationships in the communities where we live, play and work – the physical world.

Policing, monitoring and internet restrictions can only go so far, although useful additions to any internet safety policy, they are not adequate substitutes for a thorough understanding of cyberbullying and its related issues such as netiquette and emotional intelligence.

But what if that force were just other young, stupid people? Or what if it were a smart but ordinary human hacker, exploiting security holes in always-connected software those people depend on?

Its abundantly clear that disrupting with people and their lives online can have serious psychological consequences… not just in the now but for a very long time!

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