School principals in Ireland have recently become frustrated with social networks being either unresponsive or slow to respond to school requests to take down abusive posts about students in their care. The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) believe that networks such as Facebook should play a greater role in dealing with the problem, suggesting that they should appoint a dedicated liaison officer whose job it is to take calls from schools and parents and act promptly in deleting offensive posts.
While social media sites can be perceived as partly responsible for addressing the problem of cyberbullying, a recent NAPD survey indicates that most people believe that both parents and schools share responsibility for tackling cyberbullying. The survey showed some interesting results:
81% believe that cyberbullying and traditional bullying have equally serious implications for children’s mental health.
12% believe cyberbullying is more serious than traditional bullying.
66% say parents should police children’s internet use.
63% say schools should ban smartphones and social networks.
A combination of educating youth on the dangerous implications of cyberbullying and remaining vigilant of their internet use is a sound plan. Parents and school officials should work together to ensure the safety of their children and remain vigilant for any harmful behavior. However, banning the use of technology that can be misused to harm others does not seem like an effective solution. It is not the technology itself that is the problem, but rather the way it is used. In fact, technology can be used as a way of combating cyberbullying, as in the case of the Word Bully smartphone app from Iconosys. The idea of social media networks appointing a cyberbullying liaison to take down offensive posts is a great idea however, and one that seems easily accomplished.
What do you think? Should Facebook and Twitter have people whose job it is to address all cyberbullying complaints? Let us know in the comments section.