Using the web has become a very popular activity among people from all ages and walks of life in the past decade, thanks to the constant advances of technology. The Internet has become the most popular way to look for and find information, have fun, and keep in touch with people all over the world. However, it has also become a tool to harm others.
Bullying has always been a problem in most schools around the world, but with the arrival of new devices like cell phones and portable computers, it has reached its peak, to the extent that some people (especially kids) in different countries have considered suicide as an easy way out. However, this is an issue that does not have to do with technology itself, but with education.
It is not the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that pose a threat for us. Conversely, it is the way we use it. Bearing this in mind, the right thing to do is not banning the use of computers and the Internet at schools or in our everyday life, but educating ourselves and others regarding the possible risks of using the web. It is true that in the cyberspace we can have fun, learn a lot of things, and stay in touch with our loved ones; nonetheless, it can also be a place for bullying, access to unappropriate conetnts, harassment, discriminating, etc. Hence, we have to teach our students (and people in general) to be webSMART. This means:
S: Stay SAFE by avoiding giving personal information like your full name, address, phone numbers, passwords, etc., that might be used to commit fraud or impersonating others.
M: Don't MEET UP with people you have been friends with only on Internet. In the end, they're still strangers to you.
A: Don't ACCEPT EMAILS from people you don't know. These can be a potential source of viruses that can damage your software, and may contain nasty information you won't want to know.
R: People you know on the Internet are not RELIABLE. Sometimes people pretend to be someone else.
T: TELL others and ask for help in case you are being victim of bullying or harassment through the web. Many people around the world that face such a situation do not report it, which may lead to serious consequences.
At the end of the day, cyber well-being and safe surfing are things that depend on how hard governments, schools, and families work together. Do you agree with me on this? Just let me know what you think... Here you are a link to watch an interesting and moving video on cyber bullying made by Childnet International. Take a look at it and draw your own conclusions.