Cyberbullying & Digital Drama

What is Cyberbullying?

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying is formally defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices” (from Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying). We developed this definition because it is simple, concise, and reasonably comprehensive and it captures the most important elements. These elements include the following:

  • Willful: The behavior has to be deliberate, not accidental.
  • Repeated: Bullying reflects a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident.
  • Harm: The target must perceive that harm was inflicted.
  • Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices: This, of course, is what differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying

What is Digital Drama?

Common Sense Media defines digital drama as:

"...the everyday tiffs and disputes that occur between friends or acquaintances online or via text. Note: Unlike cyberbullying, which involves repeated digital harassment toward someone, drama is broader and more nuanced. That being said, kids and teens sometimes use the term drama to distance themselves from emotionally difficult behavior. Digital drama can still feel very real to students, lead to hurt feelings, and even damage friendships. In some cases, digital drama can escalate into an offline fight – either verbal or physical." (From: Common Sense Media Cyberbullying & Digital Drama)

Read the New York Times article "Bullying as True Drama" by Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick. In an excerpt from this article the authors conclude that:

Teenagers say drama when they want to diminish the importance of something. Repeatedly, teenagers would refer to something as “just stupid drama,” “something girls do,” or “so high school.” We learned that drama can be fun and entertaining; it can be serious or totally ridiculous; it can be a way to get attention or feel validated. But mostly we learned that young people use the term drama because it is empowering.

Dismissing a conflict that’s really hurting their feelings as drama lets teenagers demonstrate that they don’t care about such petty concerns. They can save face while feeling superior to those tormenting them by dismissing them as desperate for attention. Or, if they’re the instigators, the word drama lets teenagers feel that they’re participating in something innocuous or even funny, rather than having to admit that they’ve hurt someone’s feelings. Drama allows them to distance themselves from painful situations.

The authors go on to suggest that, "Antibullying efforts cannot be successful if they make teenagers feel victimized without providing them the support to go from a position of victimization to one of empowerment."

Why is it important to teach about Cyberbullying & Digital Drama?

Common Sense Media suggests that it is important to teach about cyberbullying and digital drama because you can help your students:

  • consider ways to create positive online communities rooted in trust and respect.
  • learn to identify, respond to, and limit the negative impact of cyberbullying and other unethical or harmful online behaviors.
  • recognize their own role in escalating or de-escalating online cruelty as upstanders, rather than bystanders.

Published on Aug 22, 2014

Online comments are misconstrued. A 14 year-old girl is victimized online when a simple post is taken out of context. Use this video in your classroom in conjunction with the lesson plan, Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educ...

For video discussion questions, visit: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/site...

This video is licensed under Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b.... Please contact Common Sense Media with questions about our terms of use.

Published on Aug 22, 2014

People post things online that they wouldn't say in person. A teenage boy discusses the prevalence of saying hurtful things online and the impact those comments had on a particular friend. Use this video in your classroom in conjunction with the lesson plan, Turn Down the Dial on Cyberbullying and Online Cruelty: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educ...

For video discussion questions, visit: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/site...

This video is licensed under Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b.... Please contact Common Sense Media with questions about our terms of use.

"What is Cyberbullying? - Cyberbullying Research Center." 23 Dec. 2014, http://cyberbullying.org/what-is-cyberbullying. Accessed 17 May. 2017.

"Cyberbullying Or Teasing? Discussing Online ... - Teaching Channel." https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/cyberbullying-or-teasing. Accessed 17 May. 2017.

"Cyberbullying & Digital Drama | Common Sense Media." https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship/cyberbullying-and-digital-drama. Accessed 17 May. 2017.