Preventing Online Bullying: What Companies and Others Can Do

Preventing Online Bullying: What Companies and Others Can Do

Jacqueline F. Beauchere (Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/ijt.2014010106
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Abstract

The Internet, the landmark invention of our lifetime, has brought us great benefit, but along with it, risk and antisocial behavior, including online bullying (or “cyberbullying”). Defined as the use of electronic technology to demonstrate behavior that teases, demeans, or harasses someone less powerful, the global pervasiveness of online bullying is supported by data including that in a 2012 Microsoft study of young people worldwide ages 8 to 17. Prevention lies in the promotion of “digital citizenship”—safer, responsible, and appropriate use of technology and services. And, while no singular entity can combat online bullying alone, Internet companies can play their part, as exemplified by the robust tools and resources offered by Microsoft and others. A collective focus, however, is needed to help raise awareness and change behavior and, that responsibility must be shared among parents and adults, educators, young people, law enforcement, and government.
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Defining Online Bullying

Protecting young people from online bullying has been a keen focus for Microsoft for the last six-plus years. Experience shows us that young people, parents, educators, and government officials around the world continue to be concerned about the issue (also called “cyberbullying”), often asking: What is it? How can it be prevented? And, what resources are available to help raise awareness and educate the public?

Microsoft defines online bullying3 as “the use of electronic technology to demonstrate behavior—often repeated—that teases, demeans, or harasses someone less powerful.”4 Kids who bully may, for example:

  • 1.

    Send hurtful or threatening messages to a target’s mobile phone or in an online game, or share humiliating pictures or a video on social media;

  • 2.

    Disclose secrets or private information, for instance by forwarding a confidential instant or text message;

  • 3.

    Deliberately exclude someone from a group in a game or virtual world, or through social media;

  • 4.

    Impersonate the target by gaining access to his or her mobile phone or social media account, and then send or post hurtful comments, or otherwise instigate trouble with friends;

  • 5.

    Pretend to befriend someone, gain his or her trust, and then betray that trust.

Data vary on the prevalence of online bullying. Surveys estimate that between 10 percent and 40 percent of youth in the European Union,5 United States, and Australia have, at some point, been subject to cyberbullying. One important contribution companies and governments can make is to further society’s understanding of the issue through study and analysis.

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