Developing an Understanding of Cyberbullying: The Emotional Impact and Struggle to Define

Developing an Understanding of Cyberbullying: The Emotional Impact and Struggle to Define

Carol M. Walker (East Stroudsburg University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1684-3.ch002

Abstract

When considering ethical practice for educators in the 21st Century it is imperative that teacher educators, school counselors, and administration are knowledgeable in all aspects of bullying via technology that youth and young adults are experiencing on school campuses throughout the country. The exponential proliferation of technology and social media has brought traditional bullying into cyberspace. The purpose of this chapter is to enhance the reader's understanding of the incidents of cyberbullying, to provide knowledge of the challenges researchers face in operationalizing cyberbullying that will enable all professionals to assist victims, and to proffer techniques that may be implemented in the ethical practice of primary, secondary, or college educators as they work with Millennials and Neo-millennials in the 21st Century classroom.
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Introduction

Educators in the 21st Century face a new ethical dilemma when considering the use of technology for learning. The plethora of affordable technologies, used by Millennials and Neo-millennials, enhances the need for exploration into how they are used to bully others and the emotional toll that cyberbullying may take. The Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) enable scholars and educators to enhance their research and communication; however, when people are accessible on a 24/7 basis, via cell phones and the WWW, negative circumstances may also develop. All one has to do is read the newspaper or peruse the Web; cyberbullying events and the impact on today’s youth and young adults is evident. Without prejudice between small towns or large city campuses, students are often susceptible to the unrelenting attacks, whether by strangers or those known to them.

In order to provide a comprehensive assessment of the events of cyberbullying that impact 21st Century youth and young adults in the United States, this chapter will evaluate literature associated with six main areas:

  • 1.

    Bullying,

  • 2.

    The influence of technology,

  • 3.

    Cyberbullying and the student,

  • 4.

    The struggle to define cyberbullying,

  • 5.

    Proposals for cyberbullying education, and

  • 6.

    Legal implications.

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Background

Traditional Face-to-Face Bullying

Historically considered an inherent part of childhood the idiom “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words may never hurt me” was often the method provided for youth to deal with schoolyard harassment. It was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s that research into the aggressive behavior of bullying began, in Scandinavia. Bullying behavior was termed “mobbing” (Norway, Denmark) or “mobbning” (Sweden, Finland), and Dan Olweus was the first to apply empirical research to better understand the phenomenon (Olweus, 1993, p. 8).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Neo-Millennials: The generation of individuals born after the early 2000s.

World Wide Web (WWW): An open source information space hosted via the Internet that permits the interconnection of web-based documents and other resources via a uniform resource locator (URL).

Hyperconnectivity: The use of digital technology to connect with individuals anytime and anywhere.

Cyberimmersion: The extensive, 24/7, use of the World Wide Web to interact with others, garner information, or entertain oneself.

Cyberspace: All aspects of the World Wide Web.

Millennials: The generation of individuals born between the early 1980s through the early 2000s.

Internet: The worldwide computer network utilized for the storage and dissemination of information.

Web-Based Aggression: The use of the World Wide Web to present hostile or violent dialogue via text, audio, or video content.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): an individual’s preference for social inequality among groups.

Web 2.0: Sites located on the World Wide Web that allow user-generated content that is interactive and operational.

Suicidal Ideation: The contemplation of ending ones life based on emotional distress.

Cyberbullying: The use of web-based communication media or hand-held technologies by an individual or group to deliver slanderous, harassing, demeaning, obscene, racist, or other offensive messages, images, or video either directly or indirectly that result in emotional harm to the target of the communication.

Social media: User-generated platforms that allow individuals to share ideas, information, images, and video via the World Wide Web.

Homophobia: A prejudiced and illogical fear or dislike of individuals who are not heterosexual.

Bullying: The act of one individual repeatedly and intentionally asserting physical or relational dominance over another individual who is in a position of less power.

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