In a rapidly expanding world of technology, digital social interactions, online gaming and communities, and an education system that is five or six steps behind the eight-ball waiting for crisis to occur before being able to action change, the world is rapidly getting closer and closer as information communication technology reduces geographical distances.
The Scouting and Guiding family has grown to around 38 million worldwide and they are all reaching out to each other. The sheer volume of participation in international Scouting events, attendants at national and international jamborees and events, and the now highly accessible social media streams are connecting Scouters and Guiders instantly.
Most adults and older teens are aware of the toxic nature of the internet, where the era of the physical bully is gone and the intellectual bully has flourished, but the most at risk are the innocent of middle childhood and early teens. Online bullies often attempt to overpower others using intellectual attacks, making their targets endure the toxic and debilitating experience of being spoken down to and being made to feel lesser. The dictatorial responses are often reformatted away from discussion to a ‘Q&A style sermon’ citing no facts, peer reviewed references or actual data and contain nothing by personal speculation and un-academic rhetoric. By trying to flex a wordy and unsupported lecture on their opinion, the pollution grafts to the facts and the pustule forms.
To the innocent and undeveloped mind this seems plausible, the person who wrote this sound like they know what they are talking about, critical inquiry does not commence as the mind assimilates the rhetoric and it becomes an established fact. An example of a recent toxic discussion on a provider’s public forum regarding “new users will be put off if they see a busy room with nobody talking” the toxic pustule was filled with the avoidance of the key issue, that ‘being unwelcomed by an online clique is far more damaging than an empty room waiting for people to join’. It is common practice through community platforms that users will ‘bounce in and out’ when they are available, knowing that you might catch someone online and have a chat is far more exciting than a room of 30 users all idle because they are asleep, away, or at work and unable to participate in communications. So where will I devote my time, to the chance of catching someone active in a supported service, or idle like the rest of them in the hopes that they may be included in the clique. Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, and Lattanner (2014) found that cyberbullies feel anonymous, which gives them more of an incentive to be aggressive as they feel there will be no consequences. This is not always true, as damage can be from someone who doesn’t hide behind pseudonyms or online tags, instead using faux authority (such as an admin or moderator of a platform) to impact their words on their intended victims.
This is becoming more and more common as the anonymity of the internet is reduced on most platforms, and as the credibility of the bully becomes questionable and invalid bullies and victims share a double-edged sword regarding the interaction between them. Harassment via cyber bullying leads to revenge bullying as a coping method as well as a protective strategy. Ironically, cyberbullies place themselves at a greater risk of being bullied in return and a vicious cycle is induced (Arslan, Savaser, Hallett, & Balci, 2012). Many current service providers of online Scouting have significant issues dealing with this as the systems are outdated and security needs for young people in Scouting are increasing. “Social media is changing the parameters of how people and organisations interact and operate” according to Swan (2012, p. 1) and Scouting is also taking advantage of social media to interact with the world. Phillips, Baird, and Fogg (2011) stated that “Now with the explosion of social media, educators can be part of a larger conversation with young people about digital citizenship and online behavior” (p. 1).
In other words, this is an opportunity for educators to be on the cutting edge of providing instruction related to the appropriate use of social media. Scouting’s core principles and foundation promise means that providing online Scouting services should follow the law and promise, and provide a safe and non-formal learning experience for all members. This means having robust policies, procedures and rules that are clearly defined, impacting and enforceable. Adults is Scouting and Guiding have the important role of setting examples for the youth members that are under their duty of care, and this includes online interactions and corporate social responsibility.
Unsupervised and non-retrievable ‘Instant Messaging’ is dangerous for young people, it gives anyone the opportunity to isolate the individual and take advantage of that ‘invisibility from others’ to be able to secretly abuse them, dis-empower them, threaten them, or provide them with ‘treats’ to encourage behaviors that would not be publicly accepted, and it is tough to deal with. The social lives of networked teens and young people is fathomless and complicated. Amanda Todd is known to many people around the world as the Canadian teen who in 2012 took her life because of prolonged cyber bullying. Scouting and guiding online service providers need to be skilled in dealing with not just the possible impacts and outcomes, but by working to reinforce the online environment with current safety practices, ongoing training and support for staff and team members, as well as clarity and transparency in operational standards. Remaining safe and avoiding dangers online is a well-developed skill for most young adults, but for teens and younger children it is a minefield of emotional and intellectual pitfalls that even Erik Eriksson (the psycho-social learning theorist) would have stayed well away from.
The use of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for online communications was establish back in 1988 in Finland to extend the Bulletin Board System (BBS) to allow real time discussion. It is an open protocol that use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, the age of the system and lack of adaptability prevents it from being able to be secured to a level that would be acceptable for youth protection and online internet security policy from National Scouting Organisations. For the client-to-server leg of the connection Secure Socket Layers (SSL) might be used, and then messages cease to be secure once they are relayed to other users on standard connections, and this it makes eavesdropping on or wiretapping an individual’s IRC sessions impossible.
This article is still in the process of being researched however all information was correct at time of notation.
Arslan, S., Savaser, S., Hallett, V., & Balci, S. (2012). Cyberbullying among primary school students in Turkey: Self-reported prevalence and associations with home and school life. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking, 15(10), 527-533
Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the Digital Age: A Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Cyberbullying Research Among Youth. Psychological Bulletin, 140(4), 1073-1137.
Phillips, L. F., Baird, D., & Fogg, B. J. (2011). Facebook for educators. Retrieved from www.facebookforeducators.org/educat…
Swan, G. (2012, June 18). Using social media to boost student employability. Guardian Professional. Retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education… 2012/jun/18/social-media-to-boost-student-employability