The topic of Cyber-bullying was identified as one of CORE’s Ten Trends for 2007 at the beginning of the year, and it certainly has been in the news! It’s one of those topics that generates strong feelings in people – particularly those affected by the bullies and bullying. Here are just a few perspectives I came across during a troll through some news feeds this morning:
The Oregonian reports that in Oregon, USA, legislators are drafting a bill requiring schools to come up with ways to address cyberbullying that happens on campus, near campus, on school buses or at school-related activities. The articles quotes legislators saying “it’s an epidemic”, and “student safety was becoming an issue”. Little surprise then that the legislation is described by them as “treading on the side of ‘better safe than sorry'”.
More thoughts on this problem are outlined in one of the latest in the annual series of monographs about issues facing K-12 leaders in education technology from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). Each monograph includes case studies and insights from experts on how to implement emerging technology programs in schools, and on how to deal effectively with potential crises. in its article about the monographs eSchoolNews quotes:
One monograph, titled “Safety and Learning in the Era of Social Networking,” explores potential problems for users of social-networking sites on the internet. Such sites might have great educational potential, the monograph notes, but students might think–erroneously–that they are posting information about their interests, activities, and other personal details solely for their friends.
The monograph says students need to understand that their postings are usually accessible by anyone who uses the internet. It cautions that online social networking can create virtual bookmarks that could come back to haunt today’s young people later on, such as when they are in college or in a job.
Seems like some sensible advice – unfortunately access to the full document is available to members only, or by payment of a small fee, so I haven’t yet read the full thing!
The third thing I came across is reference on CNet News Blog to a kid-safe plug-in for the Firefox web browser described as follows:
The software, called Glubble (for global bubble), is essentially a white list, or collection of pre-approved sites, for the Web browser. By downloading the Firefox plug-in, parents can control their kids’ experience online by choosing which sites they can visit and with whom they can chat. Designed for children under 12, the browser extension filters out all other sites, and maintains personalized preferences for parents and individual children. It even offers a version of Google that searches only the pre-approved sites.
Seems like a useful thing to consider, although probably more suited to the younger age groups where such protections might be considered while the learners are developing the ability to discriminate and make decisions for themselves. Once they’re a little older (and net savvy) kids will begin to feel the constraints of such measures – and besides, they can always choose to launch MS Explorer and side-step the Firefox plug-in! 🙂