Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cyberbullying in the Age of Social Media: My Take

In case you were wondering about my take on cyberbullying, which has been in the news a lot lately (and probably should have been in the news long ago), here it is, in media-packaged form from the very good people at University of Minnesota News Services:

Cyberbullying has many facets, U of M expert says

The start of the new school year this fall has brought with it a national focus on and concern with cyberbullying. What is this form of bullying and how can it be addressed? A University of Minnesota expert who can comment on the current cyberbullying crisis is:

Shayla Thiel-Stern, assistant professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, College of Liberal Arts

Thiel-Stern says the issue of cyberbullying is far too complicated to blame on only one factor. “There is not just one root to this problem,” she says. “However, we can have a productive conversation about cyberbullying if we acknowledge the many facets of the issue.”

To see a video of Thiel-Stern discussing the topic of cyberbullying and what can be done to curtail it, visit http://mediamill.cla.umn.edu/mediamill/display/83724.

She says cyberbullying differs from traditional notions of bullying. “Some people note that bullying has always been around and that the current crisis is overblown,” Thiel-Stern says. “Children, teenagers and, yes, even adults, bully and have been bullied throughout human history, but it used to be that these instances were confined to a small space in ones life. You could usually escape a bully by going home at the end of the day, for example. The Internet makes this impossible.”

In addition, social media further complicates cyberbullying. “It is now so easy to ‘share’ media with the world that can negatively affect another person – whether it’s a complaint about another individual written as a Facebook status update, an out-of-context online conversation that someone has cut and paste or an embarrassing photo or video sent out to everyone on a friend list,” she says.

“Sadly, the victim has little recourse in this process. Once something about them is posted, it's out there. It is difficult for him or her to remove or refute the post before it continues to be shared.”

Thiel-Stern’s research interests focus on the intersections of new media, youth and gender as well as critical and cultural aspects of online journalism. Her first book, “Instant Identity: Adolescent Girls and the World of Instant Messaging,” was published by Peter Lang Publishing in March 2007.

To interview Thiel-Stern, contact Jeff Falk, University News Service, jfalk@umn.edu or (612) 626-1720.

1 comment:

Bettina said...

It's sad how bullying has now evolved to cyberbullying in today's internet crazed world.
But thinking about it, I guess it all boils down to parents trying their best to educate their kids of the effects of bullying or cyberbullying to other people. They should monitor their kid's activities online and also see to it that they know who their kid's friends are.
Kids who are taught good values at home is less likely to do such kind of negative activities.

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