Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Schoolyard bullies get nastier online

Filed under
Web

When Joanne had a row with a longtime friend last year, she had no idea it would spill into cyberspace.

But what started as a spat at a teenage sleepover swiftly escalated into a three-month harangue of threatening e-mails and defacement of her Web log. "It was a nonstop nightmare," says Joanne, 14, a freshman at a private high school in Southern California. "I dreaded going on my computer."

The bullying eventually stopped after her parents and school officials intervened. But Joanne remains shaken by the experience.

The incident reflects the latest way technology is altering the social lives of children at an age when they are especially vulnerable to insults. The emergence of cyberbullying has intensified adolescent angst. It allows bullies to unleash putdowns, nasty rumors and humiliating pictures in e-mail and blogs that can strike victims at home and at any time. The damage can be devastating, psychologists say, even as it is not always obvious to parents and teachers.

Cyberbullies, mostly ages 9 to 14, are using the anonymity of the Web to mete out pain without witnessing the consequences. The problem - aggravated by widespread use of wireless devices such as cell phones and BlackBerrys - is especially prevalent in affluent suburbs, where high-speed Internet use is high and kids are technically adept, says Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety.org (www.wiredsafety.org), an online safety group.

"Some kids can't wait to get home so they can continue taunting," says Aftab, who is also an Internet lawyer. "Maybe we need to protect kids from one another online as much as we shield them from dangerous adults."

Many victims don't tell their parents out of fear they will be barred from using the Internet, Aftab and others say.

"You feel as if no one can help you," says Alyssa, 14, who waited two weeks before telling her mother she was being bullied by a boy who called her a "loser" and "stupid" in instant messages. "It's a lonely, scary feeling."

The problem appears to be growing, as more kids chat on the Internet. Half of 3,000 U.S. children surveyed the past six months said they or someone they know have been victims or guilty of cyberbullying, says WiredSafety.org.

Full Story.

In related news, a study shows parents limit teens' web use. That story here.

More in Tux Machines

digiKam Software Collection 4.3.0 released...

After a long bugs triage, we have worked hard also to close your reported issues.. A long list of the issues closed in digiKam 4.3.0 is available through the KDE Bugtracking System. Read more

Seneca College realizes value of open source

Red Hat has done a lot of work with CDOT, lately specializing in Fedora for ARM processors. Pidora, the Fedora Linux Remix specifically targeted to the Rasberry Pi, was primarily developed at CDOT. Another company that we have been working with lately is Blindside Networks. They do a lot of work with CDOT on the BigBlueButton project, which is a web conferencing tool for online education. NexJ is a Toronto-based software development firm that has worked with CDOT on various aspects of open health tools on the server side and integration of medical devices with smart phones. We have recently started working on the edX platform, where developers around the globe are working to create a next-generation online learning platform. Read more

Today in Techrights

Initial impressions of PCLinuxOS 2014.08

I spend more time looking at the family trees of Linux distributions than I do looking at my own family tree. I find it interesting to see how distributions grow from their parent distribution, either acting as an extra layer of features which regularly re-bases itself or as a separate fork. New distributions usually tend to remain similar in most ways to their parent distro, using the same package manager and maintaining similar philosophies. When I look at the family trees of Linux distributions one project stands out more than others: PCLinuxOS. Read more