What is cyber-bullying?

Sunday, October 17th, 2010 | internet

An unintended, unwelcome consequence of technology is cyber-bullying.

What is cyber-bullying?

The prefix cyber is used in many terms to describe new things that are being made possible by modern information and communication technologies, such as computers, cell phones and the internet.

We know the phenomenon of bullying among children – when weaker ones are intimidated by others through name-calling, spreading of rumours, threats, breaking their things, and physical abuse.

Cyber-bullying is the use of technology to achieve the objectives of the bully.  Since many modes of technology are available to children, cyber-bullying can take many forms – the methods used are limited only by the child’s imagination and access to technology.  Examples are:

Facebook is often used to post nasty comments with the intent of insulting, hurting or harming the reputation of a youngster.  These comments could be text, such as “Sally has slept with every boy in the class”; at times they may be in the form of photographs, which have been doctored into a slanderous image.

Cell phones can take this practice to even younger children.  Hurtful messages are sent, such as:  “You are fat and ugly and we all hate you”.  It is even possible to send these messages anonymously – simply buy a SIM card at a supermarket for a few cents, send the messages, and dispose of the card.  Nobody will ever trace the bully – but the damage has been done.

The effects of cyber-bullying on children can be the same as that of physical bullying: low self-esteem, frustration, anger, depression, loss of friends, exclusion from social activities, and in severe cases even suicide attempts.

Our children are growing up in an environment that has changed dramatically over the past decade and it is an absolute necessity that principals stay on track with developing technology.  Many schools and parents report that cyber-bullying is on the increase in South Africa and protecting our children against it is no longer optional.

The first step a principal must take to fight cyber-bullying is to gain an understanding of the problem.

For more tips for principles, click here.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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6 Comments to What is cyber-bullying?

Silulam Nkqezo
Monday, 18 October, 2010

Parents should also be made aware of cyber-bullying so that they can also notice the signs when it happens to their children. In the area of Gugulethu where I’m teaching most parents are illiterate and are not aware these issues.There is a big gap between what the learners and parents in terms of technological knowledge and exertution.We must find ways of bringing our parents on board before they miss the boat.

Mark C
Monday, 18 October, 2010

Cyber-bullying happens everywhere. Our children should be taught how to deal with it. I don’t think we should make every ill of society the school’s problem.They have enough to contend with. As a parent I talk to my children all the time to make sure they understand what is going on around them. Of course, teachers should discuss general communication protocol with learners. However, as the teachers (adults) outside the school system we are setting very poor examples.

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