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Friday 22 August 2014

Generation game: students help bridge cyber gap to highlight hazards of internet

Published 30/03/2013 | 05:00

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THE "horrible culture" that says it is not cool to snitch needs to be broken, a seminar on cyber-bullying has heard.

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People must also brush up on their "netiquette" because there should be no difference between online behaviour and behaviour in person.

Orlaith Foley of Headstrong, a charity promoting young people's mental health, told the Limerick Institute of Technology seminar that while sharing information on the internet is positive, education is the key to tackling cyber-bullying.

She was addressing one of several discussions at the Generation Game event, arranged by Event Management students to bridge the IT gap between parents and children.

Ms Foley said there were 1.9 million Facebook users in Ireland, and 400,000 YouTube videos are watched here every week.

Scary

She said 64pc of young Irish people used the internet for social networking and the average Facebook user had 200 friends.

"The role we have as educators, parents, older brothers and sisters is to teach young people that the things they do online can have huge ramifications," she said.

"Young people need to realise it is not cool to be a bystander. Sharing funny photos might seem cool, but you cannot stand by and watch this happen and laugh at the person in the photo.

"It's about teaching them that it is not okay to spot something and do nothing at all about it."

Ms Foley said that what made cyber-bullying different to traditional bullying was that it is anonymous.

"It's a scary thing and has a far more cynical side," she said.

"Bullies can reach victims in a whole new way and inflict an awful lot of damage."

Speaking about the importance of "netiquette", Ms Foley said: "You don't go to kick the lad sitting next to you, so why would you do it online?"

Urging young social media users to take part-ownership in the campaign to make the internet safer, Ms Foley said there was a "horrible culture which needs to be broken in this country that it's not cool to snitch".

She also warned social media users not to share passwords and not to connect with people they did not know.

"For some people it is hard to draw the line as to what you share online," she said.

"Would you send an email to everyone in school that you are home alone babysitting your neighbour's child and leave the address? You wouldn't. So why would you do that on Facebook?"

Yesterday's event was held at Dell Ireland's Limerick campus in conjunction with global learning network CoderDojo.

Irish Independent

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