A recent study has found that social media site such as Facebook and Twitter may be useful in assisting students who struggle with how to handle online bullying.

Cyber bully targets often face widespread putlic harassment and an invisible enemy.  This is carried on in the face of their social network.  Wjhat would happen if social networks could build tools to use as a defence against cyberbullying?

How to Handle Online Bullying

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A University of Pittsburgh study exploring cyberbullying came up with a framework for guiding the design of social media that could counteract or prevent mean and cruel behavior online.

The research team was led by Leanne Bowler, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, and included graduate student Eleanor Mattern and former Pitt faculty member Cory Knobel, who’s now assistant adjunct professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine.

The research paper — “Developing Design Interventions for Cyberbullying: A Narrative-Based Participatory Approach” — received Microsoft Research’s Lee Dirks Best Paper Award at iConference 2014, an international information science conference that was held in Berlin.

Bullying has been around for a long time. But cyberbullying adds new layers of threat and intimidation that go far beyond a physical confrontation at school or on the street. Technology in the 21st century gives bullies powerful tools — cell phones, instant or text messages and social media sites — with which to attack others.

There’s no hiding place from cyberbullying. “It doesn’t stop at your door when you walk in the house. It comes into your house,” Ms. Bowler said.

How to Handle Online Bullying

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The number of people who can see the messages also increases dramatically online, and there’s potential for constant replication of the message.

The Pitt study involved two focus groups — one group of University of Pittsburgh undergraduates and a group of teens between the ages of 14 and 17.

They were asked to map out several cyberbullying scenarios. The stories weren’t real examples of cyberbullying that they had experienced firsthand or heard of from friends: They were asked to create a story based on what they would imagine the experience would be like for someone else.

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