Monday, August 8, 2016

The Reason Behind The Cyberbullying Research Center

Online bullying and harassment has been steadily rising as critics and trollers get wider access to cyber information and can post anonymously about their sentiments and misgivings. The result of which affected many of those who rely on technology for reliable data and employment.

The pervasive online bullying led to the founding of a Cyberbullying Research Center in 2005 which acts as a clearinghouse of information on the misuses and abuses of technology. Co-directors Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin have been researching the topic since 2002 and includes data from about 14,000 children about their experiences as both cyberbully and victim.

One thing they've found is that there seems to exist a disconnect between a person and their conscience when they go online.

"When individuals are online they are sort of separated from their conscience and from social conventions and morals and norms and even the law, and they feel a little bit more free to say whatever they want to say," Hinduja said. "You can be spontaneous online and just listen to your emotions and just go off on someone without taking a moment to sort of assess the situation."

While the organization saw its formation in the wake of a number of cyberbullying-spurred teen suicides, and was formed to deal directly with the problem in schools, Hinduja said that adults routinely contact the group seeking advice. The center also occasionally works with companies on cyber harassment issues.

"We hear these stories (like the game industry harassment cases) and we know that they are taking their toll on adults," he said. "We're seeing more and more of these cases surface."

Hinduja sees the problem getting worse before it gets better. That's because he believes society is entering a new internet age, one that doesn't bring with it the decorum and manners formed over thousands of years of civilization.

Hinduja's hope is that at some point the social devolution will stop and people will start acting online how they do in real life.

"My hope is that, and hopefully this doesn't sound too idealistic, that over time people ostracize those who are jerks to other people, who are rude and cruel online and we just get to a point where we just don't do that anymore," he said. "Kind of like we don't really litter anymore. Or people don't use the N word anymore because we finally socially have gotten to a point where it is completely unacceptable. My hope is that we get to that point with this sort of stuff."

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

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