Author Archives: Kim Hildebrand

Parents, schools, bystanders… Who else is involved?

In most debates, the responsibility for cyber bullying appears to fall on the schools or the parents, and to those who are brave, the bullies themselves. But what about bystanders? Should people who watch in silence say anything? Do they have a responsibility to stand up for people who don’t have a voice like this little girl?

In Andrea Bennett’s article, “Bullying in the Digital Age” reveals that approximately 800,000 minors were bullied on Facebook alone in 2012. Cyber bullying has become such a problem, that even hackers are looking for a solution. For example, Henry Leiberman is in the process of making an algorithm that will prevent damaging material before being posted online. He and his team discovered that 95% of comments can be associated with 1 of 6 categories:

  1. appearance
  2. intelligence
  3. race
  4. ethnicity
  5. sexuality
  6. social acceptance/rejection

Another group under the name: Anonymous, are specifically working to stand up for bullying victims on Twitter. They created #OpAntiBully which is a Twitter account that gives lists and links to report abuse. People like this, who are passionate about the subject are the ones who can make a difference. If they can fight to make a difference, why can’t we?

Cyber Bullying : “Responsibility. What’s your policy?”

According to Liberty Mutual’s statistics collected in 2011, 77% of  social media users think that parents are and should be made responsible for resolving cyber bullying if their child is involved. 69% of social media users also think that schools should be more attentive and active in stopping cyber bullying. The article continued to reveal statistics such as

  • parents are much more inclined to allow their children to have a Facebook or MySpace account before the age of 18
  • only one in five (17 percent) parents would allow their child under age 18 to own a Facebook or MySpace account without monitoring their child’s account.
  • majority of parents whose children have social media accounts are “friends” with their children on Facebook or MySpace (74 percent)

These statistics came from a survey released by Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project. This project is the company’s campaign to “showcase personal acts of responsibility and daily examples of ordinary people making the decision to do considerate things for strangers.”

But who’s responsibility is it? Does it rest on parents? On schools? On the bully themselves? This debate will more than likely never be resolved. The same question exists with bullying itself. With cyber bullying, you add to the mix: site policies. Should it be a combination of the three? Most schools have anti-bullying programs and most parents probably talk with their children about it. But is that enough? cyber bullying and bullying continue to be an issue today. What else can we do to help?

What about bystanders? What, if anything, are they doing to help?

Cyber Bullying Project : Presentation

This week my group and I presented our information and project to our TIC 104 class. We used an app called TweetDeck and had two hash tags that we were tweeting with #ticcyberbullying and a fake cyber bully example being live tweeted with fake characters on the right. Using the #ticcyberbullying tag we posted links to the sites we were referring to and videos that we were showing. We asked the class to follow along. The discussion itself went great! I was slightly surprised to see how many people in the class are actually very passionate about the matter.

The conversation led fairly quickly into the federal and state laws. As mentioned in a previous post, there are no federal laws against bullying in general and only 19 states have laws for cyber bullying. Several states give credit to schools for taking preventative measures. But should this responsibility rely solely on the schools?

In my opinion, those who are passionate about the subject are the ones who can help change. Will cyber bullying ever go away? Probably not, but we can do our best as individuals to prevent it as much as possible.

Laws Against Cyberbullying

Continuing with research into cyber bullying, one question that came up is what is doing to prevent it and are their laws against it? I first decided to look into federal laws. As of February 2014, there are no federal laws against anti-bullying. A cyberbullying law was proposed in 2009 along with criminal sanctions by Linda Sanchez (CA). She introduced a bill to Congress (Committee on the Judiciary) that was referred to as “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act.”  The Act proposed the following facts/findings:

  • ⅘ children aged 2-17 live in a home with internet access
  • those on social networking sites are more likely to be targets
  • electronic communications give anonymity to the perpetrator and allow for widespread distribution which makes them severely dangerous to youth
  • online victims are associated with emotional distress and other psychological problems
  • cyber bullying can cause psychological harm including depression, negative academic performance, safety, lead to violent behavior (murder/suicide)
  • 60% of mental health professionals report having treated > 1 patient with a problematic internet experience in the previous 5 years (54% of clients were under 18 years of age).

The act proposes amending Chapter 41 of title 18 of the US code by adding:

(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(b) As used in this section—(1) the term communication means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user’s choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; and (2)the term electronic means means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.

The current status of the Act is that it died after being moved to a committee. However,  some bullying “laws” overlap with discriminatory harassment which is covered under federal civil rights laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Since I didn’t have much luck at the federal level, I decided to look at the state laws. Of the fifty states, Montana is the only has no laws against bullying at all. Of the 49 states that have bullying laws,19 include cyber bullying, 48 include electronic harassment (Wisconsin excluded), 14 have criminal sanctions, 44 have school sanctions, all 49 have required school policies, and only 12 include off campus behaviors.

Overall, it seems that individual states are working on creating their own laws since anti-bullying and anti-cyber bullying laws have not had much success at all at the federal level. I think it’s great that at least most of the states are taking a stand against bullying in general.

Brief Evolution Cyber Bullying

Though bullying has been around for years, cyber bullying wasn’t really a term until about the past decade. However, that doesn’t mean that it did not happen. Cyber bullying can be defined as using electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. Compared to face to face bullying, technology and sites such as chat rooms, IM’s, etc allow bullies to assume anonymity and allows for a distancing effect between the bully and their victim. Last week, I did a little bit a research into how cyber bullying is different and where it got started. Supposedly, it began with chat rooms such as AOL IM. Cell phones weren’t as popular until the 1990s, and use of them has increased especially among adolescents. Now, 75% of 12-17 year olds own cell phones  while only 45% did in 2004. This has caused a rise in cyber bullying over texting, which makes sense. Social media also comes into play. Myspace, the “pioneer of social media” allowed people to create their own personal space and interact with one another. Additions like facebook, twitter, and google + all came later. However, like cell phones, this causes more interaction online and therefore another increase in bullying online. Sites like these allow a larger audience to view a different and more private side of a person, which increases vulnerability

There’s an app I read about as well called YikYak. It is a free app that allows users to post strictly anonymous comments. Here’s the catch: these comments can be viewed by at least the 500 people that are closest to the person who sent it, and anyone withing 5 miles of the person who posted it. This app alone, I feel like is promoting cyber bullying. The person sitting next to you at a restaurant could post some comment about you and you would not even know that it existed if you didn’t have the app. I think this app alone takes cyber bullying and privacy to a completely different level.

Impact of the Internet

With all the advancements now a days with smart phones and being able to access anything at any given moment online, the internet has definitely had an impact on social and cultural aspects of society.

For me personally, the internet has had more of a social impact on my life. However, not necessarily in the usual sense of being social online. I myself am usually a private person and I do not like to do a lot of socializing online just out of privacy. Growing up, I moved around quite a bit and have made many friends that are currently located all over the world. I have friends in New Zealand, China, Europe, and spread out across the United States. With the internet, being able to use messaging features of facebook, email, or skype, I can keep in touch with my friends without paying a lot of money in phone calls, and still am able to converse and spend time with them. Or, if timing doesn’t allow, I can look at their webpages and still be kept up to date to an extent. It makes it easier to keep in touch and interact with my friends, especially my best friend who is in the process of moving from Iowa to Paris. When she’s in the country, we will talk on the phone or text, but when those means of communication are eliminated, we use facebook to update on small things or arrange a time to skype. We use skype to talk for hours, to include occasional movie nights. Having these features available with the internet makes keeping in touch much easier and convenient.

Privacy and Openness Panel Discussion

Last week in class, we had a panel discussion on privacy and openness online. We spend a lot of time talking about your digital footprint and how nobody reads the terms of service, and just click accept. One of the more interesting debates that came from our discussion was about authenticity. Are you more authentic online or in person? I really enjoyed this debate. Personally, I much prefer to have interactions face to face, on the phone, or on Skype. To me, that’s just more personal and you can hear or see other peoples’ reactions and emotions versus trying to read a person’s “texting voice”. For example, I can never tell if I am texting my parents something and the respond with numerous “… ” placed throughout their text if they are upset, unsure, just busy or what.

I know I am more cautious of what I make available online, but I do not put up a fake personality. But because I am more cautious of what actually is online, I guess I am not as open online as in person, which is why I prefer actual interactions. However, I do have accounts on things like Facebook and check it from time to time and bring up in conversations things that were posted. Society has almost come to the point that our non-online lives are crossing over into our online personalities and lives and continue to overlap more and more. So to put a fake personality or an ‘edited’ version of you online, I feel like one way or another, it wouldn’t last long. I don’t like having to worry about misreading something if I can hear or see someone’s face, normally. But if you were to lie about something online, what’s the difference lying to my face, or vice versa?

It just makes me wonder if people are ever fully open online. And if privacy or openness trumps the other? As far as I can tell, I guess it just depends on the person.

Intellectual Property and Fair Use online : Remixing

After watching Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk on “Laws the Choke Creativity” and the video Everything is a Remix, it makes me wonder when exactly is others or my own intellectual property considered free? Any time that something is posted online whether it be a photo, a video, or any type of idea or concept, it is often left for free reign online. The use of remixes allows users to take what already exists (idea or media) and recreate them to say a different message. Now a days, anyone with access to a computer has the ability to create remixes whether it be of a song or an image. As Lessig said, remixes are “how kids speak.”

This idea ties into the topic of last weeks in class discussions of the internet being a place of creation as well as consumption. For the most part, any type of user generated content that exists on the web is deemed freely available (for noncommercial use). Copyright laws exist to protect intellectual property but this does not put a stop to people using copyrighted things. For example, many people think that by owning a cd, when they burn a copy of it and give it to a friend, it infringes on copyright. So at what point is “trespassing” okay? Remixes themselves are a large part of our culture today and using various videos, songs, pictures, are a part of that.

I personally agree with Lessig, that the best solution is for artists and creators allow their work to be available freely for noncommercial use, as long as credit is given where credit is due.


Creation, Consumption, and the Internet

One of the great things about the internet is that information is at your fingertips almost immediately.  This certainly has its advantages whether it’s staying up to date on the news, the Olympics, or following your favorite celebrity. There are so many ways that people can interact with each other online, as pointed out in portions of Michael Wesch’s video. With so many ways to communicate with each other via YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, etc, our culture has definitely changed. With this change, the way that we view creation and consumption has changed as well.


In  Jon Udell‘s “Heavy Metal Umlaut” video, it shows how any one person at any given time can create and add information, fact or fiction on websites such as Wikipedia. Though people make changes, a website such as Wikipedia often make corrections rather quickly which eliminates falsities and prevents most vandalism. Udell’s video also shows how a website can quickly develop and the process over a span of three years. This example of usage on the internet shows both creation and consumption.  It shows creation in that multiple users are creating a detailed web page for “Heavy Metal Umlaut”. It also shows consumption because the website was developed from its original one or two sentence page to one with subsections through consumption and edits by users.


Michael Wesh’s video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us,” Wesh shows how online, things can be easily shared whether it be your thoughts, a video, pictures, where you are, and more, to include a combination of any of these things. People are certainly more willing to show what they have created to an audience worldwide. As demonstrated in the video, a blog takes a matter of seconds to establish.  With ease of access, users creations, whether they be how to videos, images, thoughts on a blog, are so simple to make that many users take advantage of the opportunity. However, many of these would not be available without creation of others. Just as one person’s video, blog, image, etc, can cause another to start up their own because they frequently used that person’s ‘product.’

The internet itself, I think, is a give and take relationship or even a cycle between creation and consumption. One seems to always be stemming off the other.

Communication in 50 Years…

Fifty years from now, I imagine that communication as we see it today will be quite different. Handwritten notes and letters will probably be a thing of the past. Since most new technologies are concerned with speed and efficiency, things such as computers and cell phones will continue to shrink in size. Maybe cell phones will all be in watches, as some features are already available on a watch now. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone developed a way so that sending messages to people just by thinking what you want to say. Maybe this could be accomplished by using a Bluetooth device or some hat attached to your head. Most things would probably be voice activated such as turning on and preheating a stove or potentially even driving a car, though that would seem a little scary. I think it would be remarkable if transportation was possible for humans, which would eliminate the need for Skype and Facetime. Since we are already the ‘Now’ generation, I can’t imagine what the future holds!