Bullies be gone.
"Yeah, yeah," you're thinking. "I know—don't cyberbully. I get it."
And we'll give you that: hopefully, you do get it. But that doesn't mean everyone else gets it, too. This course will help you navigate the slippery world of online bullying—from both sides.
Unit 1. Cyberbullying
Four lessons, four topics:
- Defining Cyberbullying
- Online Safety and Preventive Measures
- The Consequences
- How to Report Cyberbullying
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 1: What is Online Bullying?
The year is…well, any time before computers, really. Let's go with 80,000 BCE.
Grodgak and Thungtorg are having a bit of a disagreement. It's lunch time at Club-Go-Boom High, and Grodgak, a total jock, is tormenting Thungtorg. As usual.
Grodgak: "Give me your lunch money."
Thungtorg: "And what if I don't?"
[Grodgak and two of his buddies beat the brains out of Thungtorg and take his lunch money by force.]
Okay, so that was the old way of doing things—the pre-Internet way of bullying and making people feel small and powerless. (And believe us, it's tough to make Thungtorg look small and powerless.)
Good news for bullies, though: now you can hide behind a wall of obscurity while reducing strangers to tears!
Here's the new way:
Grodgak Jr.: "Give me your lunch money."
Thungtorg Jr.: "I don't even know you."
Grodgak Jr.: "Send it to me through Paypal you little ."
Thungtorg Jr.: " "Why would I do that?"
Grodgak Jr.: "Because I know all about you, Thungtorg Jefferson."
Thungtorg Jr.: "How do you know my name?"
Grodgak Jr.: "Because I hacked your computer. And I've already bought the URL www.thungtorgjeffersonisgay.com. And I'm going to start a blog there telling everyone about how much you love …unless I get $50 in my Paypal account tonight."
First, we doubt Grodgak Jr.'s lunch costs $50. Second, as gross as this interaction is, it's not that unusual. This sort of harassment takes place all the time—just about anywhere that users can interact with each other online.
Here's the thing, though. Online bullying may be defined as bullying that takes place online, but the distinction isn't just about where it happens. In fact, a whole lot changes when you go from in-person to online bullying. Neither is better or worse than the other, but there are tons of distinctions:
- Online bullying is a lot easier for the perpetrator to commit because they don't have to do it face-to-face. It takes the whole confrontation thing out of the mix and also gives the possibility of it being anonymous.
- The Internet works at all hours of the day, every day of the year. That means bullying can happen all the time online. It's not over when the school bell rings.
- You can't get physical online, but you can do pretty much everything else. Because the Internet is a place of endless bounty, that means bullying can come in the form of words, images, sounds, videos, and everything in between.
In this lesson, we're going to familiarize ourselves more with online bullying. We know it's bad, but we want to be sure we know what it is.
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 1.1: Tread Lightly
There are about a zillion things that qualify as online bullying, and we definitely don't want to give the illusion that you can just make a list and everything that's not on that list isn't cyberbullying. Having said that, it can be helpful to familiarize ourselves with a few examples of online bullying so we can know it when we see it:
- Saying nasty things to or about someone over text message, instant message, email, Facebook, or any other online medium. This is the most obvious form of bullying: being mean. (e.g., "Hey, loser, your new haircut looks stupid. You should probably just shave your whole head now.")
- Spreading rumors about someone online. In fact, spreading anything about someone online. Even if you know something is true, that doesn't mean you can spread that information. (e.g., "Did you hear Misty abducted an alien? Spread the word.")
- Ganging up on someone online. That might mean that you're having a discussion with a group of people online and everyone decides to gang up on one of the participants; or it might mean you're playing a game online and everyone decides it would be funny to be sure someone specific loses. (e.g., Jerk #1: "Get out of this chat room, ." Jerk #2: "Yeah, get out of here." Jerk #3 "You heard what Jerk #1 and Jerk #2 said—LEAVE.")
- Threatening someone online. Even if you have no intention of following through on the threat, and even if it's just a joke, it might not always come off that way. (e.g.,. "You can't even imagine how huge a wedgie I'm going to give you after gym tomorrow.")
- Creating a blog post, website, or other forum that's devoted to general nastiness toward a specific person. (e.g., http://www.dailyobservationsofhowdumbpeterkempis.blogspot.com)
- Hacking into someone's account (whether it's email, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else), and doing anything that might be harmful to that person. (Never mind the fact that the first part is illegal on its own.) (e.g., "Um, who changed my Facebook profile pic to me making out with a polar bear?")
- Pretty much anything sexy. Sexting and the sort isn't good practice generally, but it crosses into online bullying territory when it's not consensual. (e.g., "You know you want it.")
- Being exclusive in terms of who you let into an online group. (e.g., "Get out of here, chump. Jocks only.")
If you have any questions about what constitutes online bullying, head on over to cyberbullying.us. But here's our general rule of thumb:
If you're not sure if something is online bullying, it probably is.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.1a: The Real Thing
Enough hypotheticals. Lets find out what online bullying actually looks like.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.1b: Defining the Bully
You've done plenty of legwork, so now we want you to prove your expertise.
Your task: define cyberbullying.
Be as concise as possible (no more than 100 words), and post your definition to the discussion board. Once everyone has posted, take a long, hard look at everyone's definitions.
Notice something? They're all pretty different, right? Our point: online bulling means different things to different people, so tread lightly. Just because you don't feel like you're bullying someone, it doesn't mean that they don't feel like you're bullying them.