How big a problem is cyberbullying? To judge by media coverage, which frequently focuses on the most sensational and extreme cases, it’s an epidemic, and schools and legislators have often responded with heavy-handed measures. Students, on the other hand, are more likely to say that cyberbullying is less of an issue than adults perceive it to be – though even they, in many cases, overestimate how common it actually is. MediaSmarts’ report Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and Threats, the third in a series of reports based on data from our Young Canadians in a Wired World survey, suggests that so far as Canadian youth are concerned the answer is somewhere in between, presenting a portrait of online conflict that demands more nuanced, contextualized and evidence-based responses.
One of the biggest changes in our understanding of bullying has been an increased awareness of the important role witnesses play in any bullying situation. This has been partially because of cyberbullying, which makes it possible for witnesses to be invisible, to join in anonymously, to revictimize a target by forwarding bullying material – or to intervene, to offer support to the target and to bear witness to what they have seen. Just as we’re coming to realize how important witnesses to bullying are, though, we need to be careful to recognize how complex their role is.
This interactive tutorial (Licensed Resource) teaches students the critical thinking skills they need to apply to their online experiences, including online safety, authenticating online information, recognizing online marketing ploys, protecting their privacy, managing online relationships and dealing with cyberbullying.
In this lesson, students explore the verbal and visual cues that we rely on to understand how other people are feeling. They then consider the differences between online and offline communication and discuss how these differences may make it difficult to understand the effect our words and actions have on others online. Students then identify strategies for mitigating these aspects of online communication and apply those strategies to create a media product in which they are used successfully.
In this lesson, students learn about and discuss the legal aspects of cyberbullying. They review a variety of hypothetical scenarios and a case study, and they consider the seriousness of the situations, who is legally responsible, what action (if any) should be taken and by whom.