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April 2014
Vol 11 No 4
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Cyber-bullying: The Digital Age and Deviance

By Guy Weaver
 

Today’s world is an age of technology. Technology is the practical application of science to society’s commercial and industrial realm. For many, global society lives in a “world that is flat.”1 Technology has flattened the world with interconnectivity. The digital age consists of: cell phones (blackberry or iPhone), GPS devices, Bluetooth, computers (whether you are a PC or IMAC), broadband, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, wireless, digital sound, HDTV, DVR, MP3, e-music, e-mail, eBay, eHarmony, and satellite radio. The list is extensive and can go on. Society is inundated with technology. But to what point does technology become deviant? Does technology enable deviance? In certain circumstances, technology has enabled deviant human behavior.

Bullying has taken on a new form within the digital age. It is no longer bullying at the school play yard for lunch money. Bullying has morphed into cyber-bullying. A form of harassment via text messaging, IM, blogs, chat rooms and web threads has taken prevalence in recent years. According to stopcyberbullying.org, “Cyber-bullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.”2 Another website, described cyber-bullying as “online social cruelty” or eBullying.3 In some forms of eBullying, one may act or pose to be someone else in order to make a certain person “look bad.”

Such was the case when a mother in Missouri created a personal page on the social networking website, Myspace. Lori Drew posed as a sixteen year old boy and led thirteen year old, Megan Meier to believe romantic interests were involved in an electronic relationship.4 The mother had originally set up the page as a means to find out what Meier was saying about her teenage daughter. This later escalated into a fake love interest of pure harassment and abuse. The feigned relationship ended in the words, “the world would be a better place without you,” thus resulting in Meier committing suicide.

In an age of technology, things are at one’s fingertips at an instant. According to isafe.org, “the internet is the new playground.”5 Not only do parents have to worry about his/her child on the literal, physical playground, but also on the virtual playground of the internet. Kids are targets 24/7. Technology has ushered in a new form of deviance, digital deviance.

Digital deviance has widespread prevalence in today’s society. Cyber-bullying is an offensive, destructive behavior infused with technological powers. Awareness of these behaviors should be addressed. Technology allows expedience in society, yet invokes deviant behaviors from behind closed doors. These actions have been enabled through the coalescence of technology and those who seek to be behaviorally deviant. Only recently has deviance transcended from the physical to the virtual. Technology, in all its great purposes, has guided deviance into a new heightened state.

1 Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/the-world-is-flat, (accessed 05 December 2008).
2 Stop Cyberbullying, http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/what_is_cyberbullying_exactly.html, (accessed 03 December 2008).
3 Stop Bullying Now, http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adult/indexAdult.asp?Area=cyberbullying, (accessed 03 December 2008).
4 CNN.com/crime, http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/05/15/internet.suicide/index.html, (accessed 03 December 2008).
5 Isafe, http://www.isafe.org/imgs/pdf/education/CyberBullying.pdf, (accessed 03 December 2008).



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