Cyberbullying

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A Perspective on the Social Media Use of Generation Z

A recent article from CNBC takes a look at Generation Z (8 to 22 year-olds) and their feelings on social media. The article revealed that in an interview with a group of 17-year-olds, almost all said that they rarely watch regular TV and hardly ever use Facebook. It was also found that members of Gen Z are typically more conscious of privacy concerns when using social media apps than older generations, however they can have difficulty distinguishing between what is paid content from advertisers.

The teenagers spoke to CNBC after a week at London ad agency Isobel, which runs a summer school program for students. Two teams were tasked with creating an ad campaign to warn younger teens of the dangers of social media, before presenting them to a judging panel. One team cautioned children not to share their location on social media with the tagline “Your World is Theirs,” while the second group encouraged youngsters to “Pull the Plug on Online Hate.”

Adding Students with Disabilities to the Conversation about Social Media and Cyberbullying

Students with disabilities appear to experience higher highs and lower lows when using social media, according to a new report from the Ruderman Family Foundation. Students with disabilities are 1.8 times more likely to be victims—and 1.7 times more likely to be perpetrators—of social media-related cyberbullying, the group found in an analysis of survey information covering 24,000 Boston-area high school students. The connection between experiencing cyberbullying and suffering from depressive symptoms and suicidal tendencies is also particularly strong for these students.

Instagram is Trying to Stop Cyberbullying. What Can Parents Do to Help?

Instagram has recently announced new features and changes to help stamp out cyberbullying on the platform, including using artificial intelligence to detect when something offensive is about to be posted. A prompt will appear asking the user if they are sure they want to post, giving them the opportunity to reconsider. Another feature will be introduced soon that allows users to "restrict" someone, meaning they can delete comments from or block the other person from posts without that person knowing. The company said it arrived at the concept after hearing feedback that users are reluctant to outwardly block a bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they also interact with the bully "in real life." These features may help, but social work professor Jonathan Singer says parents cannot rely on those safeguards alone. Singer encourages parents to discuss online safety with their children and keep communication open about social media use.

Cyberbullying on the Rise

The Washington Post just highlighted a report from the National Center for Education Statistics showing that 20% of teen students in the US said they were bullied in the 2016-17 school year, and of those, 15% were bullied online or via text, a 3.5 percentage point increase over the previous year. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar of Purdue University says the spike may be due to increased awareness of what bullying looks like and reporting of cyberbullying incidents. Seigfried-Spellar states that students have become less inhibited about bullying others with digital separation because they don’t have to witness the emotional toll exacted or have to deal with the immediate consequences. “It’s easier to do because you don’t have to worry about a physical repercussion,” she said. “It removes that personal experience.”

Using Technology to Create Connections

Despite having more technology than ever, people are feeling increasingly disconnected, says Mandy Manning, 2018 National Teacher of the Year. Education Dive recapped the International Society for Technology in Education conference where Manning spoke recently. Manning remarked that an updated Gallup poll that found only 43% of U.S. students feel hopeful about their future, a 4% decrease from 2017, and 36% said they feel stuck. She also added that 23% reported feeling actively disengaged and 21% feel discouraged. Lack of hope leads to a lack of resilience, and when students are not resilient, they cannot learn or connect to one another, Manning added. She feels that parents and teachers should help students use technology to connect and develop compassion and empathy.

Facebook Wants To Be Regulated

In the wake of the revelations about the foreign infiltration of Facebook during the 2016 US election, Facebook itself is calling for government regulation. Of course we should not be surprised that they would also like to be part of making up the rules. Or at least that is what Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told an audience recently in Europe, where new laws govern companies that collect, store or process large amounts of information on residents of the European Union, requiring more openness about what data they have and who they share it with.

A New Alliance of Media Giants to Fight Misinformation and Hate Speech

A new coalition, Global Alliance for Responsible Media, has been formed to address brand safety issues and combat online hate speech and fake content. The coalition includes numerous industry heavyweights and social media standouts such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Unilever, General Mills, Procter & Gamble and Adidas, plus various marketing agencies and other industry associations. “When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act,” writes Luis Di Como, EVP of global media at the giant consumer brands company Unilever, in an article on the Reuters site. “Founding this alliance is a great step toward rebuilding trust in our industry and society.”

Parents Say Bullying is Widespread

According to a recent article in Education Week , 47.7% of 6- to 10-year-old children and more than 50% of children older than 11 have reported experiences of being bullied. The survey of parents by Comparitech also found that over 82.8% of bullying takes place at school, and online it's most common for children to be bullied on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. What is your experience? Is there more or less bullying going on despite the abundance of programs aimed at combating it?

The Changing Face of Free Speech in the Digital Age?

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering whether a teenager's tweets are considered free speech. The case stems from tweets sent between two students, in different states that did not know each other, that included threats of violence in the aftermath of the shooting that happened at Arapahoe High School in 2013. One of the students was arrested for harassment, but his conviction was overturned. Traditionally, for something to qualify as a true threat, there is usually a face-to-face confrontation where the harm would potentially be imminent. Experts now say they believe the courts might eventually need to decide whether a person's fear of harm is enough to constitute a true threat.

Bully a Robot and See What Happens to a Teen Brain Being Bullied

Grey New York and national nonprofit Stomp Out Bullying have partnered with clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere to create an artificial intelligence robot called "Emma" that shows how teenage brains are detrimentally affected by online bullying. A short video embedded in the article shows what happens to "Emma" as she's subjected to a plethora of hateful comments. The robot is designed for teachers, parents and teenagers to use to witness what happens to a teen brain when it is constantly bullied and taunted. Says Dr. Gardere, “… if we can help teens understand what happens when bullying occurs, we can empower them to do better."

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