The world is in our pockets, literal access to just about everything at the touch of a finger. I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my own couch to get my weekly grocery shopping done while I binge watch my latest show and check to see what some of my friends are up to on social media. Technology has made some significant advances to ease stress and create freedom from mundane time-consuming obligations, right? Absolutely! Technology is fantastic and wonderful; however, we also need to consider and be aware of the downside, just as with everything else.
Technology has created a false sense of immunity and dissemination of responsibility, this is called the online disinhibition effect. It describes the loosening of social restrictions and inhibitions that are normally present in face-to-face interactions that takes place in interaction on the internet. This appears to be a correlation in the uptick in online cyberbullying and the online disinhibition effect as individuals spend an increasing amount of time online. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Cyberbullying can cross the line into unlawful and/or criminal behavior.
There are three common special concerns when discussing cyberbullying; persistent, permanent, and hard to notice. The first implying that when individuals have access to digital devices, they also have access to social media and can communicate 24/7 nonstop. Therefore, individuals who suffer from cyberbullying rarely see relief. The second suggesting that electronic information is permanent and public if it is not reported and/or removed. This means that the negative comments can impact reputations long term, college admissions, employment opportunities and several areas of life. The final is the difficulty in observing and seeing it occur. Due to the bullying taking place online, often in private forums, parents, teachers and professionals have a difficult time recognizing it is occurring unless it is brought to their attention. All states now have laws that govern cyberbullying due to its prevalence. Nebraska’s Laws are outlined in Nebraska Revised Statues 79-267, Nebraska Revised Statues 79-137, and Nebraska Administrative Code Title 92, Chapter 10.
What can you do? Here are a list of ideas to implement during the month of October.
• Make friends with someone you don’t know.
• Challenge others to be kind, speak up if you see something happening, and be a role model!
• Create positive messages and hand them out to others.
• Don’t let anyone eat alone in the cafeteria. #nooneeatsalone
• Meet with others and discuss how you can challenge the bullying culture around you.
• Discuss bullying openly, allowing others to share stories and be heard. #hereforyou
• Participate in the #seeme and #blueup campaigns
If you or someone you know is struggling with bullying behaviors, either the victim or the aggressor, you can also reach out and let us know. Don’t stay silent, come down to the counseling office and speak with your school counselor, social worker, or CRCC therapist for more information and support.