It’s a wet Friday afternoon in Glasgow (which is hardly surprising) and I’m on my way to my part time employment for some much needed overtime. In trying to keep away from playing angry birds I find myself, not by intention listening into a conversation a group of school students are having, and if I said I was shocked at the topic of conversation I’d be lying.
Bullying amongst children was something I knew still existed but not to the extent these kids were having over a fellow student at school. So struck by this it got me thinking how children so young learn could aim such hatred, slurs and language; Could it be passed from parents? Could they be copying what they see on TV? Passion from sports perhaps? Or could it be social media?
I was speaking to a friend the other day and he told me what his little sister had wanted for Christmas, a laptop so she could “go on Facebook”. It seems more and more of the younger generation are turning to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for means of interacting with one another which may be the root of such conversations like the one on the train. Social networks and the internet give not only the younger demographic, but anyone who has the know how the ability to find a plethora of news, data and information. However it’s the access to forums and free expression websites which can showcase a person’s views and opinions, some of which they may not have expressed to the public had the internet been around.
For me personally, the term cyber bullying is something I am all too familiar with. A younger friend of mine was subjected to anonymous bullying over Facebook where the person responsible had set up a fake account and began to create rumours and post hurtful messages. The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to real-life bullying outcomes, except for the reality that with cyber bullying there is often no escape. School ends at 3 p.m., while the Internet is available at hand all the time.
Hollyoaks, the popular soap opera have based a new storyline around cyber bullying which is currently being aired on Channel 4. The storyline focuses around a new character, Dylan Shaw who sets up his social website called “DocYou”, with the site beginning as a way for Dylan to collect footage for a ‘life in a day’ style documentary film he is making. He invites his peers to submit videos and updates.
The issue then moves onto anonymous users and the problems that that can cause for the victim. Anonymity is the one real issue for social networks, as anyone and everyone can create a fictitious account and begin to attack a victim from behind the identity of a made up persona. An interesting fact from www.convenanteyes.comrevealed that “39% of social network users have been cyber bullied in some way, compared with 22% of online teens who do not use social networks”.
The issue of cyber bullying is something that looks like an issue that will only grow given the increased number of social networks and users of social networks. The hope is that through informative measures like Hollyoaks ‘DocYou’ storyline that the excessiveness of cyber bullying becomes a decreasing feature of an ever increasing online world.