The destructive use of cyberspace and acting for change
The year 2013 will soon come to a close, and looking back on the past twenty years spent in the education system, it is recognized that something in desperate need of change – the way people treat each other, and ultimately, themselves. Being a kid in the school system in the 1990s to the early 2000s had its ups and downs, and the act of bullying was both felt personally and seen openly in the halls and playgrounds of schools, but never would it have been imagined that bullying would have come to where it is now.
The school systems are implementing anti-bullying campaigns now more than ever, and this may seem like the rehashing of what is already known in society – but the ugly truth is, this may be heard, but not everyone is listening. Bullying comes in many different forms that fit into different categories of a larger whole – verbal, physical, relational, and cyber. Each form is harmful to the victim, but the rise of cyber-bullying is becoming an epidemic.
In a 2011 research study published in the Children and Youth Services Review, it was stated that “…unlike traditional victims…cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized, or helpless at the time of attack.” Every form of bullying can make the victims feel a sense of depression and hopelessness, but cyber-bullying is a newer form of harassment, and because of technological advances, it is capable of being spread at a much faster rate and on a much larger scale.
In another 2011 study that focused on bullying in the twenty first century, it was stated that we are now just “…beginning to grasp the ‘enormity’ of the cyber-bullying problem,” positing that this may lead to the “maladjusted adult” and their inability to grasp the subject matter right away due to their disconnection with the world of the Internet. However, the study also stressed that this is a topic ought to be “a new object of adult concern.” The explosion of cyber-bullying, although it has been developing for years, has become a larger problem as the Internet has grown.
In the majority of current research, there is a lot of talk about parents setting restrictions, users updating privacy settings, and limiting the time spent on the Internet by children – but setting these limits and guidelines isn’t likely to stop the problem, as it hasn’t yet. The issue that needs to be tackled is not setting up parental controls, or paying attention to the amount of time a child spends on the Internet – it is paying attention to your child, and teaching them what it means to be kind, how to treat others with dignity and respect, and how to be a well-mannered person.
The Internet can be of use for many great discoveries and has the ability to enrich society’s scope on a multitude of topics, but it is easy to blame the rise of Internet use as the problem behind something as destructive as cyber-bullying – because without looking deeper, it seems like the simplest answer to such a difficult question. It is much easier to place the blame on an inanimate object, such as a computer, rather than on parents of today. The computer isn’t going to teach your children how to respect other people, that is a job that is in the hands of human beings, and it is the responsibility of everyone in society to work together to change and put a stop to bullying one another. Being a bully is often a reflection of one’s own self-hatred, or ignorance to the affect a human being can have on another. Society needs to begin to spread love and respect both individually and to those who inhabit the world with us.
In the majority of research the focus is on school aged youth, which seems appropriate as much bullying is done in the adolescent-teen years. However, he sad reality is, this trickles into society on a greater level when these people reach their adult years.
Just because a cyber-bully is hidden behind a screen doesn’t make the act any less hurtful. Bullying is unacceptable in every way, cyber-bullying isn’t funny and it doesn’t make you “cool.” There is no reason to want to fit in with people who want to harm someone else’s wellbeing – as a society, we need to work to erase this negativity and atrocious behaviour. Change starts in the individual, everyone has the ability to treat others with dignity and respect, and that is what everyone should strive for in their lives.
The University of Guelph's Independent Student Newspaper
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