Contributing Factors in Cyberbullying

This week’s study of cyber-bullying brought a lot of important information to me. Technology has become actively apart of our lives. My personal experience as a young person with technology began with the use of a landline phone that was used to make and receive voice calls. There was no voice mail or caller ID. During that time, the introduction to the use of pagers that would allow a number to be sent to an analog device that would receive a call back number was common.  Those were the days when technology was simple. A-h-h, yes!  The use of pagers created an opportunity to introduce the cell phone. The cell phone, I said?  I only saw that type of device in a James Bond movie as a fictitious way of communication, only if you were a spy or secret agent!  The cell phone became the improved alternative to the landline phone and allowed communication to be instantaneous and from anywhere. This was a great convenience for us to use and stay in contact at all times. Today technology has went from a simple voice call to texting not only words, but pictures, and even video. The ability to transmit messages and images with this device has the created a need to teach the proper way to handle it. The use of any technological device requires that the users understand the responsible use of it and make ethical choices when communicating with it.

Cyber-bullying has become a use that would not be representative of the proper and responsible use of technology. Cyber-bullying is the willfully and repetitiously harming someone by using technology, i.e. cell phones, computers or any other device The misuse of technology in this way has become prevalent among adolescent students and has been classified as a new form of teenage aggression (Hinduja &Patchin, 2015). No, all teenagers are not using technology in this way but about 25% of students say that have experienced bullying in some form and about 16% say they have bullied others at some time (Hinduja &Patchin, 2015). Regardless of the amount of those bullied or being bullied we need to address the presence of this problem  and what we should do to help prevent it.We will examine what are some of the factors that contribute to the practice of cyber-bullying. There three that I will discuss and they are: the ability to be anonymous, lack of supervision, and the ability to disperse hurtful attacks virally.

Remaining anonymous is the invitation that cyberbullies look for. This can be done by creation of a fake profile on a social website done  by giving false information of identity. Using this to generate harmful and hateful information about others does not take the boldness that saying something with one’s voice takes. So it becomes an easy way to repeatedly bully someone. Young people’s use of technology should have the understanding that there are certain behaviors that should not be practiced illegally. Just as bullying is wrong in a social culture, it is just as wrong in the digital community.  Defaming of someones character is not funny and can cause emotional harm to others.

Teenagers are usually finding their identity and are looking for approval from their peers, and the cyber community is accessible at any time as long as they have access. This leads to another factor that when giving technology for them to use, should be addressed and put in place and that is supervision. The lack of supervision also gives the opportunity of bullying to occur. Parents discuss with their children the requirements for them to have access and use their devices. Giving guidelines and rules to govern technology gives them the understanding that they will be held accountable for the things they use the device for and they will not use it irresponsibly and be able to make good choices. Parents should be aware when the child spends most of their time on the device and not regularly communicating with them as they should. Lack of supervision can be an open avenue for bullying and being bullied.

Technology has the convenience of communication in a instantaneous frame of time and can disseminate information virally within that time also. This can be a powerful source of communication as well a powerful weapon of destruction. Posting hurtful, hateful, and untrue information about someone can be the ammunition that will cause the character of someone to be destroyed. Giving teenager access to use technology demands that they are made aware of the abuse that can occur when it handled without careful consideration.

In conclusion, I realize that being an educator in this digital age I must provide education in the use of technology that gives students the necessary knowledge to successfully handle technology responsibly. I will teach them to respect others while using the technology and always examine their motives when posting anything about themselves and others. Cyber-bullying should not increase because I am teaching, but should decrease because I take the responsibility to teach the proper use of technology and make students aware of the potential harmful usage they should avoid.

References

 Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2015). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and                     responding to cyperbullying. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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