Tag Archives: Internet

Cyberbullying– Is the Internet to blame?

After the highly publicized suicides of several US teens, a nation-wide discussion about the dangers of bullying has been sparked. In Massachusetts, 9 teens are facing charges for their bullying, which, prosecutors argue, led to the suicide of 15 year-old Phoebe Prince in January. As in the case of Phoebe Prince, modern bullying often takes place off school grounds in a form that past generations were more protected from. Nowadays, cyberbullying (bullying online or through cell phones) is becoming increasingly common.

An article in Psychology in the Schools outlines some of the elements differentiate cyberbullying from regular bullying. The author reviews past research on online behaviour among children, in an attempt to understand why young people are increasingly becoming involved in cyberbullying. According to the authors, there is much research suggesting that the anonymity of the Internet is fostering disinhibition and reducing concern for others. Psychologists and authors of the book “Mean Girls, Meaner Women” seem to support this; they argue that bullying is becoming increasingly common because young people aren’t being require to interact with each other face-to-face, and instead learn communication skills over the Internet. If this is the case, perhaps we should expect to see an increase in other examples of anti-social behaviour from teens who intensively communicate online.

However,  it also might be a bit unfair to place the blame entirely on the Internet, when other factors (e.g. parenting, education, etc.) probably still play a strong, if not stronger, role in developing children’s sense of right and wrong. Perhaps the Internet provides a new setting for bullies to harass victims, a place harder for victims to get away from. But maybe those kids would have been bullies even before the Internet and cell phones.

Read more: Cyberbullying: A preliminary assessment for school personel.

Want to find out your mood? Look it up online.

Very_happyConsider the culture of today after an event is given importance—we discuss our feelings and opinions on facebook, twitter or a blog. An article reported in Scientific American: 60 Second Science the new methods researchers are implementing to investigate group emotions in cyberspace. According to Scientific American: 60 Second Science, Michael Jackson’s death elicited sadness on the web, while a joyful and proud moment was experienced during the U.S. Presidential election on November 2008.

The website titled “We Feel Fine”, reported in Scientific American: 60 Second Science, breaks down feelings based on gender, nationality and age and many other demographics.

You don’t facebook, blog or twitter you say. No need. Identifying yourself with a social group is sufficient to arouse emotions about “group-relevant objects and events” writes Diane Mackie and colleagues.

Speed-Dating Scientific American: 60 Second Science story

Speed-Dating ‘We feel fine’ website

Speed-Dating $1.99 Mackie, D., Smith, E.R., & Ray, D.G. (2008) Intergroup Emotions and  Intergroup Relations

Speed-Dating Hogg, Michael A. and R. Scott Tindale (eds). Blackwell Handbook of Social  Psychology: Group Process. Blackwell Publishing, 2002.