The problem with Cyber-Bullying is the Bullying not the Cyber bit, says social researcher Danah Boyd


Perhaps it’s an obvious point, but researcher Danah Boyd makes it well on her blog the problem with cyber-bullying is not the cyber bit, it’s the bullying.

Behaviour online is usually a continuation of real-world behaviour she says. And the answer isn’t technological – it’s interpersonal, it’s about teaching empathy. She says:

“technology is not radically changing what’s happening; it’s simply making what’s happening far more visible.”

It’s a sensible note to strike, particularly as papers in both the UK and the States dole out blame to social networking sites for bullying and offences committed on them, when that behaviour reflects the people on the websites rather than anything inherent in the site itself.

There’s also an interesting section in the blog post on why well intentioned adult interventions don’t usually work – often to teens and grown-ups defining bullying in different ways…

However, the internet and the media do have an effect on teen behaviour she reckons.

“and here’s where we run into another major component of bullying… attention. In a world of brands and marketing, there’s a sentiment that there is no such thing as bad attention. Countless teens are desperately seeking attention. And there’s nothing like “starting drama” to guarantee both attention and entertainment.”

There are some really interesting comments too.

Danah is a well-known name in the field of online sociology – we wrote about her reports on the white flight from MySpace here Social networks and identity: MySpace is more black, Facebook is more white and Twitter is gay?

Anna Leach


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