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Bullying in the Cyber-World
by Joel Haber

The Internet is the new bathroom wall. Whereas years ago, kids would write their anonymous gossip on bathroom walls (“For a good time, call…,” “Kerri slept with Darren,” “George is a fat pig”), now they’ve found a way to send their nastiness to a much wider audience.

The newest and potentially most dangerous form of bullying, “cyberbullying,” is growing so fast, it is proving difficult for researchers and therapists to keep up. In fact, as we were preparing this chapter for publication, a new study just reported that cyberbullying among teens and preteens has increased by 50 percent in the last five years.

Just as people have quickly adapted to communicating with each other through e-mail, text messaging, message boards, and blogs, bullies have likewise lost no time in using these modes to bully and terrorize. We as parents need to learn the language of the Internet so we can discuss these issues with our children.

Parents who don’t know what to look for online, or how to prepare their children to communicate on the Internet appropriately, are opening a door to potential problems. So let’s look at the issue and what you can do about it.


What makes cyberbullying so difficult to manage and control is that it is often anonymous and indirect, and because of that, it expands the pool of potential bullies by enabling large groups of kids to launch a coordinated bully attack without ever facing their target. It is much easier for children to be mean when there is no direct contact. Kids will type things on the computer they never could say in person, and this medium makes it much easier to be impulsive and press the “send” key without considering the consequences.

Cyberbullying also generates unpredictable power configurations, creating a new set of bullies who would never have otherwise bullied someone. Kids who are more “nerdy” and get picked on or shunned in school are often the ones who are the most computer savvy, and can exact their revenge online.

Cyberbullying is also more a bit common among girls than boys. Girls tend toward indirect bullying, and this fits right into the model because they don’t have to face the person they’re tormenting.


There are various types of abuse that can happen online and by cell phone. Here are some of the types that crop up most frequently:

* Websites Created to Harass: It’s simple to create a website, and many providers offer web space free, so there have been several instances where kids have built websites dedicated to harassing a peer. One such website was called “Kill Kylie Incorporated,” accusing the student of being gay and threatening her life. It took police 9 months to catch the kids who were behind this, and Kylie transferred schools.
* Impersonation: A student impersonates another student and sends out messages purportedly from that person. In one noted case, someone discovered the password for a 13-year-old girl’s website and made it look like she said horrible things about each of her classmates. But more often, impersonation doesn’t even require actual hacking into an account—the kids may just use a screen name that appears to come from the targeted child.
* Gossip Groups: Message boards, blogs, MySpace pages, and e-mail groups can be used for nefarious purposes, and often are. Kids may group together and discuss kids they don’t like, under fake names or anonymously, like an online “slam book.” There are even sites where people can vote on the school’s biggest slut, most hated student, most boring student, and so on. The comments are online for anyone to read, and can remain online forever, serving as a painful reminder for the target.
* Photo and Video Postings: On sites like, kids can upload embarrassing videos they’ve made of others or managed to intercept, display attacks they’ve made on other kids. Kids can often record video clips on their cell phones and post them online. This may include images they’ve recorded in the locker room, at a party, on the bus, and so on. The images may be doctored using a photo editing program, too. In one case, a boy recorded himself singing a song to a girl he had a crush on, and it was disseminated across the Internet to humiliate him. How impressive are these videos to our children? Google thought they were pretty hot: They bought for 1.65 billion dollars.
* Direct Bullying: Of course, kids do threaten and torment other kids directly by e-mail, instant messages, and text messages. A child may be surfing around online when a message pops up: “Everyone at school hates you,” or “Watch your back tomorrow, because my friends and I are going to kill you.” Most of the time, these types of messages are delivered by people with fake names, or screen names created for just this purpose. A message sent to a girl named Heather might come from the screen name HeatherIsASlut. Kids may get these messages at home, or on their cell phones or computers while at school.
* Unwanted registrations: If the bully knows the target’s e-mail address, he can register the target for all kinds of unwanted e-mail. For example, a bully might subscribe to sexual newsletters under the target’s name and e-mail address…

i. Ybarra ML et al. “Examining characteristics and associated distress related to Internet harassment: findings from the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey.” Pediatrics 118 (4): e1169-77, October 2006.

ii. Struglinski, Suzanne. “Schoolyard Bullying Has Gone High Tech.” Deseret News, August 18, 2006.

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Às 9:17 em 15 setembro 2009, Luciana Telles disse...
In accordance with the bonfire principle, it's taken some time to grow, but now it's nicely alight... the feedburner stats look like this (by John V Willshire):

That green line is the number of subscribers... there were few in number for the first ten months or so, but then numbers started to swell, and keep on growing.

So, I'd like to say thanks to you for subscribing. I hope your little puppy of creativity* continues to be well nourished here*.

*A traditional Scottish saying

We’re spending more time in social media
by Nathan McDonald
on We Are Social

Hot on the heels of Wave 4 of Universal McCann’s Social Media Tracker, Forrester have just published their third annual Social Technographics Profile.

The exact stats vary, of course, but both studies confirm the overall trend of higher numbers of internet users spending an increasing amount of time in social media environments. The Forrester blog mainly comments on the landscape in North America, however Forrester’s Rebecca Jennings has a separate report looking at Europe. She notes in this excerpt:

Online European usage of social networks such as Facebook and Bebo has grown significantly — around 30% now engage with social networks regularly, up from 18% last year. Overall, more than 60% of online Europeans now engage with social media on a regular basis.

The Wave 4 Social Media Tracker report shows an increase in most types of social media activity, as the graphic excerpt above indicates.

The rapid growth in some types of activity has slowed as many markets reach saturation point, though there’s no specific stats for microblogging, or of bulletin board usage, which is heavy in many Asian markets.

Apparently we’re all uploading fewer video clips, though looking at the country spotlights, this seems to be based on a decline in the UK, Germany and Korea – emphasising how important it is to consider local market differences when developing a social media engagement strategy.

However I’m not convinced this is a long term trend: as video-capable devices and mobile internet usage proliferates, it’s becoming easier to upload, not less (the quality of these uploads is another matter). Could it be the case that some respondents under-reported their uploading habits? What do you think about these stats?
Às 8:52 em 15 setembro 2009, Luciana Telles disse...
How teenagers really consume media
from We Are Social
by Adam Bernstein

With all the talk of teenagers’ online habits in the news, we got our most knowledgeable man in to blog on the matter. 17 year old Adam Bernstein is an A-level student currently on work experience with We Are Social, and here are his thoughts.

It’s been the buzz of the social media sphere this week: how Matthew Robson, a 15 year-old intern at Morgan Stanley, had written a report which had shocked and dazzled city bosses in equal measure.

The trouble is, as another teenager – admittedly a slightly older one – Robson’s arguments do not hold true. There is much value in Robson’s report – it does provide an interesting insight into how one particular teenager consumes media. But there is a danger in taking isolated examples and extrapolating them to be indicative of society.

Robson’s report is supposed to be focussed on the teen market, yet too often he ignores important economic & social factors. For example, the argument that teenagers don’t buy newspapers because they’re too expensive is an interesting one. But this argument is based on one assumption which underscores Robson’s entire report: teenagers are independent of their parents. But this simply isn’t the case – most people I know who do read a newspaper read it because it’s in the house. Teenagers probably wouldn’t pay 80p a day for a newspaper but it’s not an issue because in many cases they don’t have to.

If Robson wanted to know the real reason teenagers don’t read newspapers, it is more about content. Teenagers will consistently have their lifestyle treated with derision in the papers; but how often will a viable alternative be offered? With the continual damning of teens in the papers, it’s no wonder teenagers don’t read them.

But it was Robson’s claims about Twitter which were the most ignorant: “Twitter is pointless to teens” screamed the headlines. It’s true to say that teens (on the whole) don’t use Twitter but his fixation on the costs of texting missed a crucial point: only 5% of Tweets are made via SMS – the success of applications such as Tweetdeck and Twitterfox show how it is really used.

The reality is that teens don’t use Twitter because of demographics: to make a broad – and somewhat unfair – generalisation, teenagers use Facebook, whereas Twitter is used by older people. Essentially, teens follow other teens so it’s inevitable that most of the age-group stays away from Twitter. Twitter’s relevance to the younger market is diminished because many perceive a ‘tweet’ as being the same as a Facebook Status Update – they don’t see the need for both.

Robson’s report is useful for the many truths it does contain: Teenagers doing all they can to avoid advertising is an important point which the ad companies will be trying hard to counteract. But Robson’s suggestion that teenagers are motivated above all by cost is a spurious one: teenage consumption of media probably does have something to do with money; but most teens don’t have a full-time job, many are in full-time education and are supported by their parents – it is they who pay for everything so his argument that costs are the most important thing to teens is wrong.

But, as Suw Charman-Anderson notes, the main problem with Robson’s report is that he thinks his experiences are emblematic of teenagers as a whole. The reality is that there is much greater diversity in the teen market than Robson suggests. Teenagers are an eclectic bunch – and Robson would do well to remember this.

Update: I’ve just come across an interesting report by Forrester about this exact topic (for those interested in US rather than UK data, there’s also a good presentation from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Nielsen’s recent How Teens Use Media report). Robson’s argument that all teenagers are always listening to music, particularly free online music, is kicked into touch:

With its findings suggesting socio-economic factors are unimportant in how teenagers consume media, Robson’s arguments that costs are the primary factor in deciding what teens do is shown to be false.

But what is most interesting for companies is that teenagers are using social media for the same reasons as the population as a whole. Possibly this means they don’t need tailored advertising; more probably, it means that in time teenagers will drift over to Twitter - Facebook was originally intended for Harvard University students yet is now used worldwide.

Having said all of this, the accuracy of the report does have to be considered - speaking to 261 13-19 year olds and making assumptions that this data covers society as a whole is questionable. But at least it’s more accurate than Robson’s report which was simply the findings of one person.

What do teenagers actually think about technology? Photograph: Rex Features
Às 11:02 em 14 setembro 2009, Luciana Telles disse...
10 Ideas for Parents to Coach their Children
adapted from DYC

It takes time and commitment to make any change, and in a parenting relationship it can be even more challenging, as our children are really different every past day. Here are 10 ideas to help you along.

1) Admit you don't know everything and give an example of a wrong decision you made with them and discuss it. It helps you to become more trustful to your child.

2) Tell them you love and trust them and hug them frequently. It helps you to show your love and improve your emotional connection.

3) Tell them and show them with your actions that you respect them. The same will occur from the other side.

4) Ask their views and advice on a simple challenge in your relationship and progress into more sensitive issues that have more impact on your relationship. AS time will pass by, your children will become even more confident in helping along on difficult times.

5) Allocate regular quality time to discuss what support they need in school/college/work/anything else. Specially emotional support, bullying is a topic that every child passes through nowadays.

6) Ask them what is the most important thing you could do to improve the relationship and do it.

7) Ask what everyone in the relationship could do to improve it and discuss the necessary strategies to be successful. Also consider when, where and how this would be most suitable.

8) Ask them if they are happy in their life and in what areas. Explain that happiness is something that comes from different ways, in different areas of life.

9) Ask them if there are any areas they are unhappy with and help them with a strategy to overcome it.

10) A very important action - celebrate each step of achievement to reinforce their success.

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