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Media Smarts: Cyberbullying

Media Smarts

Technology is a double-edged sword. The benefits such as access to information and quick, easy communications are an asset. The dark side of the internet is a scary and powerful thing.

Cyberbullying is bullying that is spread by electronic means. These can be on computers, cell phones or other devices. You may have heard the term ‘online bullying’ and this is the same thing. It is most common between young people and teenagers. When this happens between adults it is more commonly known as cyberharassment or cyberstalking and there are laws against that.

Bullies have been around forever, but now they can spread their hate by hiding behind technology. They are cowards but can still do a lot of damage. These bullies may embarrass or threaten others by posting a text or a tweet or a facebook message that is mean or even threatening. Photos may be posted to embarrass or be hurtful.

Cyberbullying is powerful because it reaches a wider group and can happen 24 hours a day. Every child or teen who uses technology (computer or phone) and let’s face it that is every child and teen, are at risk of being cyberbullied – or being the cyberbully.

If you are the parent whose child or teen is being bullied there are a few things that can help: block the bully, cut down on your child’s technology use, and advise your teen to never send anyone a compromising photo. These photos can be shared widely – and that can, and has, led to tragic consequences.

A shocking statistic: In 90% of bullying cases, friends (or peers) know about it. This is no different than the old-fashioned schoolyard bully from years ago. Too many people stand by and do not speak up. Statistics tell us that if a “bystander’ (either in person or online) speaks up most bullying will stop. Teens: Do not be a silent bystander.

Cyberstalking (when these behaviours happen between adults) is against the law. In Canada, cyberstalking can be prosecuted as criminal harassment under the criminal code. It is defined as, “repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them,” in a negative or unwanted way.

It is vital to our mental well-being that we “reject hate speech,
misinformation and online negativity. What we consume, what we are exposed to, and what we engage with online, has a real effect on all of us.”
– Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

Media Smarts:

  • Week # 1 – Sources
  • Week # 2 – Opinion or Fact
  • Week # 3 – Gender and Racial Stereotypes
  • Week # 4 – Scams
  • Week # 5 – Cyberbullying