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Are we safer on the street than the virtual playground these days? May 19, 2009

Posted by BCME UK in Social media.
Tags: ,

 by Clare HE 

I have been keeping an eye out for the verdict in the US cyber-bullying case where a mother has been accused of computer fraud. For people who aren’t familiar with this landmark case…the mum, her teenage daughter and a friend illegally gained access to a protected computer, set up a MySpace profile (of a fictitious 13 year old boy) and sent her daughter’s ex-friend (13 year old girl) some nasty messages via the popular social network. The tragedy with this story? The girl then killed herself.  Depressing I know – but the fact that youngster now lead much more digital lives means that online bullying is a problem that isn’t going away.

It has just been reported on BBC Online that the judge has postponed sentencing for a couple of months. So it’ll be interesting to see what verdict is reached. Regardless, it shows how seriously we must all take issues such as cyber-bullying. In fact, Trend Micro has recently released research results that reveal over one in 10 teens think it’s ‘cool’ or ‘funny’ to pretend to be someone else online and over four in 10 have hacked into another person’s social networking profile.  Scary stats!  Luckily, in the UK we have organizations around such as Cyber Mentors who do a great job of raising awareness to these issues and really go a long way support the unfortunate victims. Their recent PR campaign has been great at raising awareness to the ever growing problem of cyberbulling in the UK.  They’ve been using celebrities such as Lamar and NDubz to front the campaign and encourage victims to get in touch. They’ve also used strong social media tactics – video case studies, blogs etc. to reach this age group. 

Although the internet is such a great place to learn – it can also be a scary place for the digital generation and teens that spend such a great deal of their lives online in social networking sites, forums, online games sites etc.  Organisations like CyberMentors should be recognised for the fantastic work they’re doing to communicate with this age group – and doing it in a way that isn’t cheesy but speaks to kids in their own language.





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