Recent information from the Norton Online Family Report, which looks at the effects of growing up in a digital age on young people, revealed a rather sobering trend in schools which can be very harmful to teachers. It is called cyberbaiting, a phenomenon, according to the report, that twenty-one percent of teachers have either personally experienced or know of another teacher who has experienced it.
This study from Symantec included interviews from kids and their parents from 24 countries including the United States which revealed some interesting statistics. For example, it found that 62 percent of kids (more than six in ten) said they have had a negative experience while they have been online such as being bullied, downloading a virus, responding to an email scam, or being pressured to do something online that they thought was wrong.
Symantec also found that 82 percent of kids who broke their “Internet house rules” experienced something negative online, compared to 52 percent of kids who “follow house rules.” Additionally, it found that 95 percent of parents know what their children are viewing online.
But the most troubling news for teachers was the report’s findings on cyberbaiting. What is cyberbaiting? Symantec Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt describes it as a situation in which students deliberately provoke a teacher into doing something that is out of control and stupid. Someone tapes the teacher going off on their cell phone, and the destructive video is posted online.
“This of course has the net effect of embarrassing the teacher, taking a momentary lapse of judgment in a classroom and embedding it onto the web,” Merritt explained.
I became curious after reading about cyberbaiting, as this was the first I had heard of this phenomenon. (Obviously I am not in the 21 percent from the report.) I decided to launch some Google searches trying to find some reported incidents of cyberbaiting. But my attempts came up empty; I found nothing. In fact, it was as though the internet had no idea what I was asking for.
But in a podcast interview with Marian Merritt, she said that she had Googled “teachers lose it” and discovered a multitude of posted videos which were derogatory to teachers. So, I tried it myself, and like Merritt, I was astounded at the plethora of awful videos out there.
The report further found that because of the widespread prevalence of cyberbaiting, 67 percent of teachers reported that they felt it was too risky to friend students on social networks, although 34 percent continue to friend their students. Additionally, about 51 percent of those interviewed said that their schools have social media codes of conduct which control how students and teachers can interact with each other online.
It should come as no surprise that 80 percent of teachers feel that there should be more education provided in school regarding online safety, and 70 percent of parents agree.
Merritt warned against becoming fixated on the findings that 21 percent of teachers said they had “experienced or know another teacher who’s experienced cyberbaiting.” In her interview, she said that it is likely that a very small number of teachers have actually experienced cyberbaiting themselves. However, she acknowledges that even though the numbers are low, the findings do indicate that it is an issue.
So, I’m curious. Have any of you experienced cyberbaiting? Drop us a line if you or someone you know was the victim of cyberbaiting.