For the purpose of this study the concept of ‘bullying’ can be considered as an aggressive,intentional act or conduct that is carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over timeagainst a victim who can not easily defend himself or herself (Olweus, 1993). Drawing from this position there can be several main types of bullying; namely physical, verbal, relational (e.g.social exclusion) and indirect (e.g. rumour spreading). Within the electronic environments of theInternet (such as email, online chat and online games) and mobile phones, the physical form of bullying is replaced by virtual realities where similar behaviours of aggression and intimidationcan still occur. Within these spaces such behavior has been labeled as ‘cyberbullying’ (Li 2006).
While face-to-face bullying is often visible and is restricted to real world interactions, limited intime and space, cyberbullying, on the other hand, is able to be undertaken anonymously anytimeanywhere, including inside safe areas such as the victims’ home (
, ABC, 6/4/09).Cyberbullies have a greater capacity to avoid detection with their actions often being restricted to‘intimate’ and personal communication means, rather than in the public domain of physical real-world social interactions. While traditional bullying has long been recognized as causing psychological harm to targets, cyberbullying has the ability to be just as harmful, and some, suchas Li (2006), would argue that it presents as even more damaging given the personal and invasivenature of the act.Digital devices like mobile phones and the Internet often allow users to apply actions andthoughts to online activities that they apply in a face-to-face setting. Learning can be consideredas primarily a social process mediated through interactions using tools (Vygotsky 1978; Wertsch1999) whose use is appropriated through intearactions in the social and cultural worlds. Childrenappropriate the ideas and mannerisms of those with whom they interact most (Leont’ev, 1981),through what they see, hear and read. However, children often do not distinguish in the intricaciesof different social settings and therefore appropriating the ways of interacting in informalsituations and applying them to formal interactions, that is a transfer of offline informalfriendships built through informal verbal interactions into an online environment with primarilyformal text based interactions, often occurs. Furthermore, the online digital world also generates anew language shared amongst users that is often foreign to those, such as parents and teachers,who can act to protect children, this extends beyond the normal generational gap to deeper levelof being, with Prensky (2001) describing it as a divide between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digitalimmigrants’. With burgeoning internet usage, which on one hand helps children to access a vastarray of information and interactions helping learning to take on a greater pace both in qualityand quantity inside and outside of the school, also puts children at risk of being bullied digitally.Cyberbullying takes many forms include flaming, flooding, harassment, cyberstalking,denigration (putdowns), masquerading, outing and exclusion. These terms are explained byWillard (2004) and have been summarised into Table 1.
Forms of cyberbullying (adapted from Willard, 2004)
FlamingAngry, rude, vulgar messagesThis type involves Anonymity of the perpetrator and let him/her perform power play over the bullied.OnlineharassmentOffensive messagesIt involves repetition in which the perpetrator can exercise bullying for MTeach Research Project - Cyberbullying Anirudh Singh (S00071543)