It’s not the first time I wrote about this nor will it be the last, but in recent highlights in the papers and news, its rose its ugly head again. What I am talking about is Cyber Bullying.
A dirty word for a dirty illness. What is the definition of Cyber Bullying? The Oxford dictionary define this term as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature:”
But let’s not get carried away with the fancy big word “Cyber”. Before cyber technology came about, we dealt with bullying for a long time. Bullying was first reported back in1862 when a soldier John Flood turned on his tormentor and shot him. In 1973, the first published book on research into systematic bullying in Sweden by Dr. Dan Olweus. Scandinavia countries are known for their pioneering research into bullying. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that nearly 200,000 people in the early 2000’s were skipping school due to being bullied. That is a large drop in attendance and potential these children missed out. Normally a bullied victim will lose out in something they need or enjoy. This is especially true with adults as a survey in the US last year was conducted by Harris Interactive, showing that 35% workers endured bullying in the workplace. 48% of the tormentors were the bosses and 17% of the victims left the job to get away from the situation. The health effects from bullying accounted for 16% of the cases, with mostly mental health stress. We were told through our lives if you confront your bully, it will get better. In this research 11% said it got far worse and 38% said the bullying did not change.
(Image courtesy of poetryjaam.blogspot.com)
Why do people get bullied? Is there a reason? Is it to do with your height, weight, appearance, social etiquette, background, wealth, health, social standing, intelligence or other ludicrous reasons? Unfortunately lots of these are core characteristics of people that bullies prey on. Again, another study carried out in the US this year served blow to adolescents with autism. 920 parents surveyed responded by saying 46.3 % of their children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) were bullied. PHD of Washington University, St Louis concluded that more inclusion into mainstream classrooms would decrease this figure.
What has this to do with technology? Everything, as this is a background into the bullying we have been aware of for years and grew up with. We have probably witnessed this bullying or have been a victim, or worse, been a perpetrator.
Cyber Bullying is this same nightmare only magnitude online via our keyboards and phones. Remember home was the safe haven where we were safe away from the bullies, well home has changed its safe den features. All homes now have latest technology in at least one room of the house. It’s not a case of one computer sitting in the study, it’s more like a collection of devices linked together for the same purpose; get online. We have computer desktops with big screens, laptops, tablets, phones, PlayStations, Nintendo Wii’s, PSP’s, Smart TVs and many other devices. Walking into a house full of gadgets and all sharing and viewing content from around the world.
(Image Courtesy of services.Google.com)
We have become so engrossed in our social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Club Penguin, Ask.Fm and more that we sometimes leave reality. We could start one conversation on a laptop, continue it on our phones on way to work, use the computer when working and finish it off in the evening with a tablet. We have access to the Internet as much as we want nearly. So with all this access it’s only natural that bullies get on these mediums to torture their prey. What attracts the bully to this, as it’s easier, more accessible and have a higher group of an active audience. Maybe post a picture of the victim that was edited with Photoshop to make insinuations of another nature, that what the photo was taken. Post it to Facebook, share on your wall with your 200 friends, and ask them to share to their 200 friends. Within a few hours, maybe 150 people have actually seen this photo, including the victim who has seen it over and over again coming up on their friends screens also. Where do you hide? Where can you hide? What can you do?