Schoolchildren are being urged to watch a viral video that highlights the impact of cyberbullying on people in the real world.
The #ClickWithCompassion film shows actors confronting one another with real comments from the internet.
In one case, a white woman approaches a Muslim woman and says: ‘You know what? All of you Muslims need to go back to the hellholes you’re from. Can you believe this? F**king terrorist.”
In another, a man confronts a gay couple: “I think gay people are sick, and you guys should just kill yourself.” These scenes are set in real-life places, with the unwitting members of the public watching on. In each scene, members of the public end up coming to the aid of the victim, illustrating the point that harassment is not tolerated in the real world.
The video is the result of a collaboration between Monica Lewinsky and anti-bullying groups in the US.
Ms Lewinksy, who was 24 years old when news broke online in 1998 about her relationship with then US president Bill Clinton, says she has been the victim of ongoing cyberbullying.
“Before you post something online, think about what you’re clicking,” Ms Lewinsky told CBS.
“Think before you click. And so what that means is think about the face test. Would you say that to someone offline, just as we’re sitting here? And if not, then don’t post it.”
Dr James O’Higgins Normal of DCU’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre said students - and the wider public - could benefit from watching the video.
“It’s a good exercise. One of the things that happens online is that people lose their inhibition and say things they would never say in the real world .. and what they say online becomes magnified in terms of power and effect,” he said.
“By getting people to realise there is a real person behind a screen helps drive home the point that we need the same kind of etiquette online.”
Dr O’Higgins Norman said there is a continuing need to educate children and wider society over the potential impact of social media.
“Social media isn’t going away . It’s going to be part of our lives and we need to be responsible in how we use it and out of that emerges the need for education and training.
“Old-fashioned parenting skills are needed and teachers need to talk about it .... When you have a tool as powerful as social media in the hands of children, it’s like giving them keys to car without a driving licence. So anything that helps us realise there are real people behind a screen is positive.”
The above article was originally published by the Irish Times and can be viewed here.