Screens and social media have a way of making people meaner. When we’re not looking someone in the eye it’s often easier to say things we’d never say in “real” life. Empowered by this perceived “anonymity”, bullies hide behind screen names and post cruel comments, with little consideration - or understanding- of consequences.
Youth participating in the kidsmediacentre focus groups consistently chose Mean Girls as the movie that best reflects the life of teens and pre-teens today, arguing “there is a clique of popular kids in every school and they run the grade.” Online abuse can be a reflection of that social pecking order in a school or community. This would typically be the stereotypical ‘popular’ boys or girls in school and students tell us online bullying – which is often as much about exclusion than inclusion - is an online tool to enforce the social order that already exists in real life.