Monday, September 29, 2014

The question of online behaviours.

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

I've not been sure what to write about as of late but today thought of the question present when it comes to online behaviours. In this day and age of cyber technology, it's true children are having to deal with a new world even adults are ill equipped to handle.  I did a bit of reading and learned Richard J. Hazler, a professor of counseling education at Penn State University in America stated that children, for the most part, are unable to comprehend the damage their behavioural actions online can cause in the lives of others offline. He said that when it comes to bullying and its consequences, kids simply haven’t fully developed emotionally and that young people behave in such ways because that part of the brain controlling cognitive decision-making is not physiologically completely formed. There does seem to be some truth to this, but I thought it seems to be sidestepping the looming question that if this is indeed the case, why then do we see the same behaviours in adults online?

Either there are many more adults with underdeveloped emotional brains or it is something more fundamental that supersedes emotional development. I'm predisposed to ponder the latter.  Kids can be unusually cruel to one another and it does tie in to the fact that they do not possess the power of empathy, but because adults can be equally if not more vicious when in an online environment, it might have more to do with the detachment factor.  The inability to see direct damage.  In the perspective of many, their ventings are lost in cyber space, falling on deaf ears.  Because they do not see a direct response or reaction, they assume that their remarks don’t have the same effect as if in person. This then doesn’t have a thing to do with emotional development than a lack of understanding of technology.

What Mr. Hazler stated seems to almost allow young people an excuse to behave in these detestable ways.  Should we not be refusing to allow the making of excuses to explain away online abusive behaviours? One does not need to be emotionally developed to be kind to others or to know it is the appropriate course. Do they? I think not.