Has the Internet Unleashed: Digital Drama?

Article excerpt

While the Internet is far from evil, its rapid growth unleashed multiple ways for people to hurt themselves and others

In Greek mythology, Pandora opened a box releasing all the evils of the world. When everything exited the box, the only thing left was hope. While the Internet is far from evil, its rapid growth unleashed multiple ways for people to hurt themselves and others. Society was unable to anticipate the problems associated with this new form of communication and as a result now has to impose rules and regulations to control the problems. Both federal and state governmental agencies are scrambling to create or amend laws to control issues associated with communication technologies. Some of the problems associated with these modern technologies include cyberbullying, cyber harassment, cyber stalking and sexting. This article will present an overview of these issues with regard -to minors.

Cyberbullying

In order to understand these issues, several terms need to be defined. Cyberbuilying is a term used when teens or pre-teens harasses or otherwise target another teen or pre-teen using electronic means. Cyberbullying may occur through the use of cell phones, social networking sites or web pages. The term cyber harassment is used to indicate when at least one adult is involved in the harassment. Cyber stalking occurs when a person uses electronic means to stalk another person. This can be done by following someone's movement via Facebook or Twitter postings or by using iPhone GPS apps.

Cases of Cyberbullying, cyber harassment and cyber stalking have been publicized widely in the press. Research is beginning to come out concerning the prevalence of these issues. According to a study conducted in 2009 by Cox Communications, nearly three-quarters of teens have an online profile on a social networking site (Cox, 2009). Additionally, the study found that three out of five children surveyed stated that they were concerned about the risks of having personal information and photos on these sites, but while they know it can be dangerous they do it anyway.

In 2007, the National Crime Prevention Council explored the issue of Cyberbullying among middle and high school aged students in the United States. The study had four main objectives:

* explore teens' experiences with cyberbullying;

* understand teens' emotional and behavioral reactions to cyberbullying;

* probe what teens think would be the most effective ways to prevent or put a stop to cyberbullying; and

* determine how teens define cyberbullying and what other terms they use to describe it (National Crime Prevention Council, 2007).

Higher Among Females

Some of the findings indicate that 42 percent of teens ages 13 tol7 experienced cyberbullying in the previous year. Incidents of cyberbullying are higher among females than males and the highest incidences occur in 15and 16-year-old children. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed state that children cyberbully because they think it is funny, 64 percent don't like the person, 45 percent view the victim as a loser and 46 percent don't think there are consequences for their actions or believe that they will get caught.

When children were asked what can be done about cyberbullies, students stated that they should block the cyberbully, not pass along messages and tell the cyberbully to stop. Interestingly, 56 percent said that Internet service providers (ISPs) should monitor and block cyberbullies. This naivety shows that children do not understand the vastness of the Internet and the use of social networking sites. ISPs clearly cannot monitor the millions of messages that are transmitted daily via the Internet. Forty-five percent of the children surveyed also report that parents should tell their children that cyberbullying is wrong and 43 percent state that the victim should report cyberbullying to an adult.

These last two percentages indicate that children understand that adults can assist them with this issue; however, studies also indicate that children continue to not report when they are being cyberbullied. …