The electronic technology has been instrumental in the push towards globalization. Electronic technology includes equipment and devices such as computers, tablets and mobile phones as well as their accompanying communication services such as text messages, social media sites, websites and chats. These forums have been instrumental in the ease of doing business around the world because they allow communication to be efficient, fast and convenient. While the electronic technology has been important in improving communication, it has also been used in the spread of harmful contexts that would otherwise have been difficult to spread fast and in mass including prejudice and intolerant of groups on grounds of ethnicity, disability, sexuality and gender. This paper explores cyber bullying, one of the vices that has been highlighted and magnified and perpetuated due to advancement in electronic technology.
Cyber Bullying is Different
Bullies have been around for a long time, but technology has now given them a new platform to perpetrate the vice. What makes cyber bullying is the uniqueness with which it is perpetrated and the inability to easily outrun the bully. Unlike any other form of bullying, cyber bullying is very different. Breguet explains that unlike other forms of bullying where a child can run away from the bully and stay away, cyber bullying can be taking place throughout the day, throughout every day of the week (4). Considering the fact that children now use the electronic technologies both day and night, it therefore means that the bully might be sleeping but the victim is throughout the night undergoing psychological trauma (Pappas 1).
Moreover, cyber bullying is different and difficult to fight because now it is possible for one to send images and messages anonymously and reach millions of people almost instantly (McQuade et al. 4). With the ability to operate anonymously, it is often impossible for the bully to be apprehended because it is almost impossible to trace the source of a particular post. As a result, the community and the authorities may be helpless to help a child or even an adult who is a victim of cyber bullying. The situation is made worse by the fact that after a harassing picture, message or text has been sent or posted, it is impossible to delete it because many people may have downloaded it and saved it on their personal computers, tabs and mobile phones.
The advancement in technology also renders parents almost helpless. For parents, it is not easy to know when and how to step in and help the child because the generational gap makes it hard for parents to understand the nature of the technology. To start with, children use technology differently from their parents (Willard 74). While most parents use technological devices where necessary, for most children, the internet is an integral part of what they do throughout the day. For example, video games are played online and it may take a parent months before learning how to play the game leave a lone identifying the bullies. The generational gap makes many parents not effectively help the children because majority of them have no idea how the cyber world operates entirely (Tynes 1).
Sometimes, cyber bullying can be accidental. Technological devices and the social media have brought about the mass access of information. Sometimes, due to cultural differences, the tone of the information may be misinterpreted by some of the audience resulting into cyber bullying. For example, a meme may be going around depicting a certain stereotype that a certain demographic of people does not find offensive (Hinduja and Patchin 59). However, a person from a different culture may find such as act offensive and harassment to them.
Effects of Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying has serious effects on the victim and most of them have long term effects on a child. Children who have been cyber bullied are more likely to skip school, receive poor grades, have a poor health, use drugs, experience in-person bullying, and have a low self-esteem (Rogers 12). Hence, the effects of cyber bullying are just as serious as any other form of bullying that has historically existed. Because the community has been lagging behind in recommendations of the best means to tackle cyber bullying, a child may be subjected to the harassment for a long time before they are able to seek help (Flott 1). For example, most avenues will recommend that parents keep an eye on their children in order to detect the bullying in advance.
However, this is not an effective strategy because as already outlined, most parents simply do not understand how the cyberspace works. With the parents being charged with the task of observing the early warning sights, the child can undergo harassment online for a long time before the parents finally understand the nature of the source and means of tackling it. Long-term and severe cyber bullying can leave the child at risk of depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders (Rogers 22). In some case, some children have turned to suicide to escape the cruel world (Alverez 1). Experts in this filed have explained that the victims are at a higher risk of suicide attempts, suicide thoughts and completed suicide cases.
Signs of Cyber Bullying
So how do parents and teachers among others tell when a child is being cyber bullied? Although many of the victims of cyber bullying may not want to tell their parents or their teachers that they are being bullied due to social stigma or that their computers will be taken away, there are some signs that a parent or guardian can pick out including: a child being protective or secretive about their digital life, a child avoiding discussions about cell-phone and computer activities, a child being upset emotionally after or during use of the internet, a child avoiding group gatherings, a child wanting to completely use the cell phone or the computer, a child being nervous when getting a message online and changes in behavior in general (Kowalski, Sue and Patricia 118). Although these may not be much to determine the extent of the bullying, they are enough signs for the parent to get involved and to determine the kind of help to seek on behalf of the child.
Conclusion and Recommendations
To tackle cyber bullying, it is essential for the stakeholders especially the parent to know the child’s online world. This gives the parent the ability to know how the child spends time online in order to determine whether they are the victims or the bullies. From that knowledge, it is possible to know the bullies and even take measures to remedy the situation for example by blocking the bully. Moreover, going forward, a child’s access to technology should be limited. For example, the child may not be allowed to use a cell phone until they reach a certain age and personal computers may only be used in public places inside the house such as the living room. This minimizes the exposure to cyber bullying and also makes it easy to notice the signs of cyber bullying early on.
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Tynes, Brendesha. “Cyberbullying Is a Bigger Problem than Screen Time Addiction.” The New York Times, 24 August 2016. www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/07/16/is-internet-addiction-a-health-threat-for-teenagers/cyberbullying-is-a-bigger-problem-than-screen-time-addiction. Accessed 3 May 2017.
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