1/3 teenagers have been cyberbullied
July 19, 2007
A study last month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project based in Washington DC found that one-third of US teenage internet users have been targets of cyber-bullying (New Scientist, 7 July, p 23). Meanwhile, as online communication evolves from instant messaging and chatrooms to social networking sites and YouTube, the venues where bullying occurs are becoming both more central to young people’s lives, and more public.
What’s more, the ability to reach more people, and the always-on culture of the internet, means that cyber-bullying can have an even more detrimental effect on the victim than conventional playground bullying.
Research into the causes and effects of cyber-bullying is still in its infancy. But it is becoming clear that aspects of online communication encourage people to act aggressively, prompting them to do things they wouldn’t dare to try in real life.
role-playing software called FearNot!, which gets children to empathise with a victim of bullying.
This is the take home clip: “Ghyslain Raza, also known as the “Star Wars Kid”, learned this the hard way. In 2002, the somewhat overweight and slightly awkward Canadian adolescent made a video of himself playing with a pretend light sabre and left it lying around at school. When his classmates found the video in 2003, they posted it online as a joke.Raza was so upset he finished the school year from a psychiatric ward. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t just his friends who found the video amusing. According to UK marketing firm The Viral Factory, it became the internet’s most downloaded video of 2006.”
Be careful who you laugh at.