Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Native Or Migrant

By David Simms, Senior Contributor
The Global Institute for Cyber Safety and Standards

When it comes to the global crisis we face of harassment, stalking, and the overall abuse of others, social networking sites have now surpassed all other modes as the primary means of carrying out these aggressive crimes. The statistics say that young people are twice as likely to be harassed on Facebook than any other social site in the world and that Twitter and are not far behind. They also say that the number one type of cyber-harassment is pornographic content followed by violent threats. What does this say about our changing world? It ought to be an indication that the internet is where most of the action is taking place socially, especially for the younger generation. If we're to combat this most effectively should we not then begin to put ourselves in their shoes?  They are considered to be internet natives, meaning their lives have always been integral with the internet, computers and technology. It is part of their founding sense of reality. Whereas the older generation are internet migrants – we did not begin there, but we adapted to the technology. This is a significant difference. Could it be then that the older generation is incapable of finding effective solutions to current internet challenges such as bullying and harassment? 

There is no doubt cyber-harassment extends to the adult world in the most vicious of ways. There is also no doubt that the stakes are much higher for adults than children. When a life is damaged online, a child has time to recover; an adult does not. The obvious answer is that the children of today must follow rules keeping their behaviours in check when at school, so they should also online. I’m not so sure it is that simple. Standards and laws are a must, but we must be mindful of the way they are implemented. They must be tailored to the natives of the internet who in some ways, though no excuse, have never known a difference.