From what I can gather, Australian politicians and the media are gearing up for some good old hysteria with regard to cyberbullying. And as part of the process is a recourse to regulation of social media sites to apparently deal with the problem.
For that reason, I thought I’d link to some reminders of actual evidence that suggests a more thoughtful approach:
- Cyberbullying is just bullying and what we know from bullying is that it must be treated school by school and family by family and that entering the formal legal process is potentially destructive and never helpful to the victims. For this, read Emily Bazelon’s thoughful book.
- Laws that prevent under 13’s from engaging in social media take control and discretion away from parents and educators and are making the problem worse. See here, here and here.
- Teenagers engage in social media in a fairly sophisticated way it is important parents understand exactly what is going on before intervening. For this there is no better read than danah boyd’s latest book.
Chris Berg is right that an online watchdog is unlikely to help but he is not correct to say there are adequate legal protections. The point is, as he hints to at the end of his article, that legal protections are the wrong approach here.