In light of the recent suicide by well-known Australian Charlotte Dawson, there are calls for the creation of tougher laws against cyber bullying, namely Charlotte’s Law. The concern is that while Charlotte’s Law may close some gaps in current legislation, Duxbury (2014) indicates that there may still be many gaps and behaviours which will not be criminalised.
Duxbury’s article points out the benefits of social media, the freedom of speech, the ability to promote interesting and in-depth discussions, the ability to create and maintain personal relationships. She also points out that it is the not the application or website that is responsible for the behaviour of its users. For web masters to control or monitor posts may detract from the spontaneous nature of the interactions users want. Similarly, by banning anonymous posts, those with legitimate reasons for hiding their identity would be excluded from the conversation.
Duxbury believes that in the end, it comes back to personal responsibility and good manner. In her view, a lack of empathy is shown by abrupt texts, ritual humiliation, celebrity bashing and “shares” of denigrating material. It is up to each of us to set the standard for acceptable personal behaviour on-line. Don’t post or pass on anything that you would not say to someone’s face. If someone you know posts something you see as harmful or unacceptable, call them on it.
As parents and educations, it is our responsibility to teach our children the responsibilities of being a member of today’s digital society, and ensure they set themselves a high standard of behaviour. Further, we should encourage them to stand up to bullies, both on their own behalf and on behalf of others they see being victimised. Yes, this is a tough one, but only by standing up to bullies can we indicate that their behaviour is not acceptable. As Duxbury says “How would I feel if this was about me?”
Duxbury, J. (6 March 2014). Cyber bullying: easy to perpetrate, hard to stop. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/comment/cyber-bullying-easy-to-perpetrate-hard-to-stop-20140305-347ck.html
It is interesting to note that the digital divide is not just a difference in the ability to connect to the internet and other technology. There is also a digital divide between those who are technologically savvy, and those who lack experience and expertise. These differences can be seen between developed and developing nations. It can also be seen within nations such as ours.
In Australia, there is a divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and their ability to connect technologically. There is also a divide between those with access to cable technology and those in more remote areas (read almost everywhere outside a capital city).
This discrepancy ensures that those in the right place are those with the best opportunities in the digital world. Does this mean that everyone should move to the city to access this technology? If so, where would our farming products come from? Do those of us who live in remote areas send our children to the city to access such technology?
Australia has replaced analogue technology with digital for mobile phones and television. Does it provide better access for those in remote locations? This was a considered outcome prior to the rollout, but has it eventuated? Personal experience leaves me no choice but to accept that there are limitations to digital reception, particularly behind mountains and during stormy weather.
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