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“I Did It For the LULZ”. Inside the Minds of Cyberbullies and Their Targets Linda R. Young, Ph.D. [email protected] Your Brain on Digital Tech. Adaptation to: Rapidly changing shocking content Immediate gratification More windows than walls Emotional & physical distance

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I did it for the lulz

“I Did It For the LULZ”

Inside the Minds of Cyberbullies and Their Targets

Linda R. Young, Ph.D.

[email protected]


Your brain on digital tech
Your Brain on Digital Tech

Adaptation to:

  • Rapidly changing shocking content

  • Immediate gratification

  • More windows than walls

  • Emotional & physical distance

    • Mirror neurons missing

    • Compensatory writtencommunication

    • Disinhibition

    • Groupthink

    • Polarization


Forms of cyberbullying and harassment
Forms of Cyberbullying and Harassment

1. Flaming. Short online exchanges using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language.

2. Harassment. Repeated offensive messages to target. Ex: Text or email blitzing, “griefers” in MMORPGs

3. Denigration. Online untrue derogatory rumors or representations (e.g altered photo, slam book, ) of a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.


Forms of cyberbullying and harassment1
Forms of Cyberbullying and Harassment

4. Impersonation. Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to get person in trouble or danger or to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.

5. Outing & Trickery. Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online. May be obtained through trickery (gaining their trust and getting them to disclose secrets)

6. Exclusion. Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group.


Forms of cyberbullying and harassment2
Forms of Cyberbullying and Harassment

7. Cyberstalking. Repeated, intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.

8. Happy Slapping/ Hopping – started in England, one person slaps or otherwise assaults another in public while accomplice takes camera phone picture, then posts – Shaun Noonan suicide


Bullying circle olweus
“Bullying Circle” (Olweus)

  • Initiator

  • Henchmen - followers who actively join in

  • Supporters - laugh, call attention to it

  • Passive supporters

  • Disengaged onlookers

  • Inactive defenders of victim

  • Active defenders -try to help

  • Bullied student


Characteristics of the target
Characteristics of the Target

  • Marginalized because of differences

    • Race, sexuality, appearance, religion, mental or physical disability

  • Emotionally intelligent, sensitive

  • Non-violent, passive, respectful

  • Apologetic

  • Self-reliant, socially isolated

  • Anxious or depressed

  • May be more comfortable with adults than peers

  • Naive


Characteristics of cyberbully
Characteristics of Cyberbully

  • High self-regard / self-focus

  • Entitled, Alpha, power-driven

  • Impulsive, easily frustrated & bored

  • Attention seeking

  • Lacking empathy, compassion, accountability

  • Good manipulator (lie, deceive, charm, deflect. evade)

  • Tech savvy

  • Rewarded for aggressive behavior

  • Inconsistent discipline & supervision

  • Higher exposure to domestic violence & parental discord / absence


Fame junkies halpern
Fame Junkies - Halpern

  • 1950s: 12% of teens thought they were “truly important”

  • 1980s: 80% of teens thought they were “truly important”

  • 31% of teens today expect to be famous


Characteristics of bully victim
Characteristics of Bully/Victim

  • Many of social and emotional features of passive both target and bully

  • Are the most avoided kids at school

    • Juvonen et al 2003

  • Depression, suicidality, self-injury

    • Kim, Koh & Levinthol, 2005


  • P e r p motives
    P.E.R.P. Motives

    • P = Power seeking

    • E = Entertainment / Ego

    • R = Revenge

    • P = Protecting target


    Why?

    • Because they can

    • Fun, funny

    • Don’t think it is a big deal

    • Encouraged by friends

    • They think they won’t get caught

    • Normalized by media

    • Culture of narcissism

    • Contradictory cultural messages

    • Longing to belong

    • Immature cortex - Lack self-regulation



    Identity splitting online
    Identity Splitting Online

    • Real Self

    • Ideal Self

    • False Self

    • Repressed Self

    • Objectified Self


    Ideal self stanford virtual human interaction lab proteus effect
    Ideal SelfStanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab “Proteus Effect”



    Suppressed self
    Suppressed Self

    • Bullying & Harassment

      Web Trolls

      “LULZ” - Post for “the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium”

    • Sexual Acting Out


    Objectified self
    Objectified Self

    • Rating & Ranking

    • Status Seeking

    • Self-Promotion

    • Advertising


    Ryan patrick halligan
    Ryan Patrick Halligan

    • Committed suicide at 13

    • Instant Messaged a friend saying “tonight’s the night. I think I’m going to do it.”

    • The friend replied “It’s about f**ing time!”

      Ryan's Father speaks to students



    Star wars kid
    Star Wars Kid

    • Ghyslain Raza 2002

    • 76 million views


    Why targets don t tell
    Why Targets Don’t Tell

    • Don’t think it’s serious

      (Nearly 50% in Teenage Research Unlimited study)

    • Fear losing tech privileges

    • Fear it will make things worse

    • Don’t want to break code of silence

    • Don’t think adult will do anything helpful

    • Think adult will over-react

    • Fear being blamed


    Opposing intervention views
    Opposing Intervention Views

    • “The primary focus of our interventions should be (1) protection from repeat bullying and (2) limiting the effects of past bullying. If mental health professionals focus primarily on how these young people should prevent future bullying with their own actions, we risk confirming their belief that the bullying was their fault”.

      • Stop Bullying Now Tip sheet http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheets/tip-sheet-26.aspx

  • Words “can only hurt us if we let them. If you insult me and I get hurt, it is not really you who hurt me. I hurt myself! So why should you get punished?” Don’t punish the bully.

    • Izzy Kalman bullies2buddies.com Parent/Teacher Manual



  • What not to do
    What Not to Do

    • Treat bullying as a conflict to be resolved

    • Zero tolerance

    • Treat target as partly to blame

    • Rescue student, speak for them

    • Label child as shy, fragile, emotional

    • Assume you can’t help

    • Assume kids can’t help themselves

    • Avoid talking about sex


    What to do
    What to Do

    • Model and teach assertiveness

    • Explore and practice humor limits

    • Model and teach delayed gratification,

      self regulation

    • Peer social norming

    • Student-generated curricula

    • Bystander education - especially impt.

    • Whole school approach - keep improving


    What to do1
    What to Do

    • Role play comebacks to verbal aggression

    • Provide leadership & service opportunities

    • Provide social opportunities for ostracized students

      • In RL, virtual worlds, MMORPGs

      • Webwise Kids games


    Teach mature decision making
    Teach Mature Decision Making

    • The “Golden Rule” test

      • How would you feel if someone did the same thing to you?

    • The “Mom or Dad” test

      • What would your Mom or Dad think?

    • The “Front Page” test

      • If your actions were reported on the front page of a newspaper what would other people think?

    • The “If Everybody Did It” test

      • What would happen if everybody made the decision to do this?

    • The “Check Inside” test

      • How do you feel inside?

        Source: What is Right and What is Wrong? By Nancy Willard http://netizen.uoregon.edu


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