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What is Cyberbullying - The Law and the current scenario

What is Cyberbullying - The Law and the current scenario

What is Cyberbullying and The current scenario

While Cyberbullying has started many years ago, it’s still hard to define due to the fluid nature of the phenomenon.

As new Technologies evolve then Cyberbullying evolves as well.

Cyberbullying by the Law: a definition

Whenever we look for an exhaustive definition of Cyberbullying we get lost in a labyrinth, a real maze made of laws and under-laws.

Often underestimated, this issue is not recognized on all the Countries around the World, and it’s considered in different ways.

They usually consider the practical aspect of the phenomenon, or they include the issue in the much broader Bullying.

The English page of Wikipedia (as for August 12th 2016) takes the legal definition from as for February 5th 2016 and defines Cyberbullying as:

  • actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others
  • use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person
  • use of Internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person.

If we check “Cyber Harassement” on the definition reiterates “Cyberbullying”: they seem to be the same thing.

The recurring concept about Cyberbullying

The recurring concept is the harmful nature of Cyberbullying, a broad term for a wide issue.

The Law focuses on the repetition of the harm, making the definition more specific.

One single act is not Cyberbullying, for the issue implies a deliberate plan to harm a target, whether the target is a single person or a group of people, as well as an Organization.

The blurred nature of Cyberbullying

The focus on Technology may create confusion, as Cyberbullying usually is an extension of the Offline Bullying.

The Internet of Things is shifting to the Internet of All Things, from the hyper-connected World to hyper-connected Life, where Digital and Analog Reality merge into one whole thing.

In this complex scenario our children meet their friends at school, then they took them on a WhatsApp group, then each of them invites other people into the group.

Some of the new virtual friends may become offline friends, and invite other friends as well.

Multiply this System with many other Channels that intertween each others and you think you got the point, yet it’s still the surface.

A real mess, or a real Complexity, as you want to see the phenomenon. You choose.

When Analog and Digital Worlds blur and dissolve, how can you tell what does hurt our children and what doesn’t?

When a boy hurts an offline friend, and this friend takes his vengeance on a Social Channel by defaming the mate, how can you tell what made the harm?

The Analog or the Discrete?

And I share you a deeper question: does it really matter?

The Adult dichotomy

So we have Bullying and Cyberbullying, and we think they are different Worlds.

This is the adults dichotomy: we still see Analog and Discrete as two different Worlds.

We were born before the Web, we lived many years without the Digital. We are not Digital Natives. We are Digital Immigrates.

We still discern our online friends from online contacts: we sense the different quality and intimacy.

We are aware of words that are mere words, like the online offense that we are able to turn off as we turn off our device.

Our Children aren’t able to choose. They don’t have this option nor the New World gives them the opportunity to choose.

They were born in a World with the Web attached.

Internet is everywhere like the air we breath each day.

What happens online is as real as what happens offline

Friendship breaks because of something happened with a boy or girl met online, and teenagers fall in love on Instagram even before getting in touch by phone or real meeting.

This apply to Cyberbullying too.

Statistics say that an act of Cyberbullying is a natural extension of an act of traditional Bullying in most cases.

So what is Cyberbullying?

Should we find a new concept that is able to take care of all of this Complexity?

The Law talks about intentions and deliberation, a direct harm.

Let’s analyze another typical situation.

A girl records a funny video of herself and share it with a friend. The friend finds the innocent clip so funny that he shares it to a WhatsApp group. Then something strange happens. A member of the group shares the clip to another group and adds a spicy caption not related to the girl of the video, but to the situation itself. The caption is so humorous that a member of the new group shares the video (along with the caption) to another group. The members of the last group don’t know the girl of the video, laugh at the situation and the caption and start to comment and share. Each new share adds more humour and spice to the clip, and soon it goes out public and decontextualized. It went viral. The day after the girl goes to school and notices that many boys and girls are staring at her and whispering. She still donesn’t know why. Then she discovers what people are saying about the video.

The harm begins…

Where is the intention? Where is the deliberation? Who made what? Can we still detect a guilty?

What if the video was a hot one?

The girl records the clip in full consciousness, then she shares it in a WhatsApp group, and some friends reshare it away knowing that nobody of his friends know the girl, so her “privacy” is protected. No harm: the girl isn’t aware of the share, the new spectators don’t know the girl and probably they will never meet her in the analog life. After some passages the hot video is viral and come back to the World of the girl and her friends watch it and recognize the actress. The “privacy” is broken, and the harm begins.

Again: who made what? Who’s the guilty?

Welcome to the Digital World.

If you feel confused then you’re becoming aware of the Complexity of the World our Children are going to live.

Your Journey begins here.

Stay with us: we are going to ride the digital roller coaster of our Life, and the Life of your Children.

Dr Ivan Ferrero - Psychologist of the New Media

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