New age brings new hope and opportunity.

True. Yet, among those that it offers, we often overlook that which is more definitive and which makes the prospect of new hope and opportunity possible: the uncertainty. The new technology, namely, the Internet certainly has unveiled a new chapter in our lives and societies. But in the pit of uncertainty that the elder generations have yet to uncover, are trapped the very curious young, tasting the first fruits of bitterness that the era of cyberspace yields.

Generation Z

Generation Z (Timeout Sdyney 2008)

Generation Z (Timeout Sdyney 2008)

Here, I am talking about the Generation Z, children, who are born from 1995 to the end of 2009 (GenerationZ 2008). These are people who “have never known a life without the Internet, let alone computers, and many don’t know a world without mobile phones” (Cornish, cited in Walliker 2008). These make them some of the first (probably right after Generation Y) to endure the negative effects of the new genres.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is one of them. It can simply be defined as “sending or posting harmful or cruel text or images using the internet or other digital communication devices’ (Willard 2004, cited in Li 2008, p. 158). This is noted to take place across many new communication genres, ranging from cell phone, email, to social networking websites, including Myspace and Facebook (Li 2008, p. 159; Benson 2008).

Cyber bullying (CityNews 2008)

Cyber bullying (CityNews 2008)

The Australian recently indicates that “up to 1 in 7 children is being bullied, harassed or abused online in a new trend called ‘fuming’”. What makes thing worse is that the Australian government has only just begun to tackling this issue, because of lack of understanding of the problem. In his very first attempt, Youth Minister Graham West has decided to use online forum (new genre) to find out more about the new genre issues, saying it is the only way to reach the victims.

Facebook and Myspace are not safe

Online Predator (GET Mail-gear 2008)

Online Predator (GET Mail-gear 2008)

As social networking websites are becoming more and more famous, the number of children registered to Facebook and Myspace has soared to a quarter of their age groups online (‘Q&A: Children and safer net use’ 2008). In these communities, where children are often tempted to reveal their personal information, children are even more vulnerable to intentional attacks, or worse, sexual abuse (Wlliams 2006). A relevant case, which I consider the worst so far, is about a 49-year-old woman who lured a 13-year-old girl into a virtual relationship under a fictitious identity. The woman then broke off the relationship by telling the little girl that the world would be better without her, resulting in the latter’s suicide (‘US “cyber-bully” mother indicated 2008).

However, many parties have already become aware of the issue and are ready to fight against it (please refer to Angwin 2007; Shiels 2008; Byron Review 2008). Ultimately, I believe, it is just a matter of time when this and other problems posed by uncertainty of the new age can be fully overcome.

References:

Angwin 2007, ‘Myspace moves to give parents more information’, The Wall Street Journal, 17 January. Retrieved, 13 November, 2008, from

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116900733587978625-TzfakoF_hN6f6R45g_cLsm3OJZ0_20080116.html

Benson, S 2008, ‘Home cyber bully attack’, AustralianIT, 6 October. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,,24452313-15306,00.html

Byron Review 2008. Viewed 13 November, 2008, in

http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview/

Li, Q 2008, ‘Cyberbullying in schools: a research of gender differences’, School Psychology International, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 157-170.

‘Q&A: Children and safer net use’ 2008, BBC, 2 April. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7326246.stm

Shiels, M 2008, ‘Facebook agrees child safety plan’, BBC, 8 May. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7391170.stm

‘US “cyber-bully” mother indicated 2008, BBC, 16 May. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7403957.stm

Walliker, A 2008, ‘Get ready, here comes Generation Z’, News.com.au, 25 Febuary. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23270222-2,00.html

Williams, P 2006, ‘Myspace, Facebook attract online predators’, MSNBC.com, 3 Febuary. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11165576/#storyContinued