Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Fastest Way to Address Cyberbullying is to Teach Digital and Information Literacy to Our Youth

I have been working on cyberbullying and cyberharassment issues since 1995, before others in the field. In all those years we have seen one thread that runs through most cases - the more you understand digital and information literacy, the safer you are. Many young people offend others when they break the rules of netiquette (digital etiquette). They may be making a joke that is misunderstood online. They may send a message to the wrong person by accident that causes alarm. They may forget an essential word, like "not" in a statement like "you are [not] fat!" causing hurt. They share their passwords, create passwords that are easy to guess or leave their accounts open on a family or public computer. They don't protect their cellphones with passwords or keep them within sight at all times. Based upon our surveys and cases we handle, almost a third of cyberbullying cases could be avoided if we used better digital hygiene and thought before we clicked. Something to think about!