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Technobullying

Technobullying has been a serious issue for adolescents and youth in America. While the recent catastrophic deaths attributed to technobullying have propelled this issue into the forefront of American media and concern, youth have known the humiliation, anxiety, and fear that comes with connection to the digital world. Previously known as cyberbullying, technobullying encompasses the broad spectrum of electronic devices that leave youth and young adults vulnerable to attacks. Computers, cell phones, webcams, cameras, and video games are all mechanisms used to technobully others.

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So what exactly is technobullying?

Technobullying is a hostile act carried out by a group or individual using electronic forms of contact. This act is carried out repeatedly over time against a vulnerable victim.

Examples of technobullying include:

  • Posting sensitive, private information about another person
  • Spreading rumors and lies about someone
  • Intimidating someone in order to cause harm or humiliation to another
  • Intentionally excluding someone from an online group
  • Threatening particular people “anonymously”
  • Making obscene or harassing telephone calls
  • Sexting - sending sexually explicit messages or photographs without consent
  • Sending mean, vulgar, or inappropriate messages or images
  • Technostalking

The reason technobullying has become such a major concern since the creation of electronic devices is due to the perpetrators belief in the “anonymity” of their attacks. A common thought is that by hiding your identity online, your actions are untraceable and therefore you will never be caught. As wrong as that belief is, the idea of anonymity concerning this issue is by far the greatest motivator for perpetrators of technobullying.

As stated before, technobullying occurs in a variety of electronic formats, and Americans should not be fooled into thinking that this issue only occurs on the computer. Cell phones in particular are a great example of the depth of technobullying. Calls, text messages, BBM’s, and internet access from a cell phone leave the majority of American youth vulnerable to attack 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Video games that are connected online to a community of subscribers also leave players at risk for technobullying. Since the majority of American youth either have access to a computer or a cell phone, almost every child is at risk for technobullying at some point and time.

In regards to the internet, the following are the most common places for technobullying to occur:

  • Facebook
  • Myspace
  • Formspring
  • Twitter
  • Chat rooms
  • AIM
  • Email
  • Blogs
  • Message Boards
  • You Tube

A majority of the attention brought to technobullying lately concerns the issue of differentiating this form of abuse from previous forms of schoolyard bullying. Contrary to the belief that bullying is a “rite of passage” for American youth, technobullying is NOT the same as bullying. The most important difference to comprehend is that victims who are bullied can typically escape their perpetrator. Victims of technobullying, however, are at risk of harassment 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Another key distinguisher is that most technobullying victims have no idea who their perpetrator is. The fact is, it is virtually impossible to isolate oneself from technology and electronic devices, so vulnerability is a constant concern. The continuing onslaught of attack from technobullying has catastrophic consequences for its victims. Unfortunately, American society is no stranger to the devastating results that electronic harassment brings forth.

 

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