This past July Music Entertainment released a movie titled Cyberbully. You can watch the entire movie online at IMDB here. Recently ABC picked it up and has since rebroadcast it once, and will be doing so again in the near future. Also, there is talk about a a pilot being released on the same topic. I have a few thoughts on the matter. 1. I commend ABC and the producers of this movie for selecting a topic that is an important issue to address – and then making it publicly available. 2. What is the audience and where is cyberbullying happening? Cyberbullying from what I understand is when “bullying” occurs via technology (cell phone, chat rooms, email, etc.) There are millions of instances where people have sent messages in one way or another with statements such as: “I hate you.” “I want to kill you.” “I know where you live.” And so forth. Terrible comments – hurtful, and dangerous. And what’s worse – unlike traditional bullying they don’t stay on the school yard – they follow the recipients wherever they are. I once read a Calvin and Hobbes comic that read: What Suzy says is so true – and not only for kids. Words do hurt – and sadly, the words shared via cyberbullying have often led to not just verbal abuse, but physical. Various cyberbullying reports have shown that hateful remarks have pushed several teens to suicide. So… what is our responsibility as technology educators? And for those of you who were in 276 the other day – this is an important discussion certainly considering our lecture on the moral dimensions of teaching we had in class. Here are some statistics from i-safe and a few other organizations that might push you to investigate this hurtful form of offense:
According to statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:
Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
More than 1 in 3 young people have been threatened online.
Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs.
The Harford County Examiner reported similarly concerning statistics on cyber bullying:
Around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying
Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim
Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying
The Cyberbullying Research Center also did a series of surveys that found that:
Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
Cyber bullying affects all races
Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide