We all know the dangers of real life predators, human and animal alike. That is why we tell our children to stay out of alleyways, be home before dinner, don’t talk to strangers, find an adult, and all these other myriad ways to make our lives safer. Because in the end, all we want is a safe world for our friends, family, and ourselves to live in. But why do we stop caring when it comes to the internet? We haphazardly allow our children to surf the web and expose themselves to millions of strangers. These people are more than capable of taking advantage of a helpless innocent child and they are more than capable of taking advantage of an adult as well. But why are people doing this? Random strangers do not usually stand off to the side of the road and yell verbal abuse at you and try to steal your identity. Today, that is seemingly all the internet is anymore. So it begs the question: Is the internet a bad place? Or is the internet just making us bad people?
Ted Feinberg and Nicole Robey are two prominent writers in the field of cyberbullying. To elaborate, cyberbullying is literally defined by the two as, “…sending or posting harmful or cruel text or images using the Internet (e.g., instant messaging, e-mails, chat rooms, and social networking sites) or other digital communication devices, such as cell phones. It can involve stalking, threats, harassment, impersonation, humiliation, trickery, and exclusion,” as it is written in their article for the Education Digest titled, “Cyberbullying”. Technology today has enabled many individuals to bully and harass others through various media while potentially remaining anonymous. Many of these cases go reported each year, and the reason is that we do not express as much of an interest in this subject. Ted and Nicole give go further and provide potential reasoning about why many people will cyberbully individuals stating that some try to make up for a lack of physical presence with a large online and anonymous presence, and some females will intentionally prey on one individual feeling that they are, “justified in their Internet attack of a weaker, less socially adept peer.”
Often times, traditional methods of reporting a bully do not work. When you’re being physically harassed at school, a teacher or principal can be directly involved in the relationship between the two individuals, and often there is some visible sign of being physically bullied. Ted and Nancy elaborate saying that, “Victims of cyberbullying are significantly less likely to tell someone of the abuse than victims of traditional bullying.” The two go on to say that while many students will simply change their passwords, block individuals, or just ignore the messages, it does not change the fact that there are some people whose behavior is out of line.
Cyberbullying is without a doubt a result of our modern day use of technology. Without the internet and our cell phones as well as the various websites that allow children access to these resources that allow them to act in such a manner, we would not be placed in such a predicament. In this manner, I believe that we can assume that there is some credence to people’s belief that the internet is enabling people to become worse off. Yet many would say that rather than blame technology for the cause, blame the lack of supervision that many parents have over their children as they browse the web, which brings me back to my original point: Why do we stop watching our kids when they log on to the computer? We constantly fret over each little thing our child does, even holding their hands while walking to and from the park, but as soon as they enter the online landscape, we leave them to fend for themselves? Ted and Nicole disagree, as do I.
Feinberg, T., & Robey, N. (2008, September 1). Cyberbullying. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/Cyberbulling NASSP 9-08.pdf