Jennifer Cairns

Cyber Bullying

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The founder of eGurus Technology Tutors, Jennifer Cairns combines an entrepreneurial spirit with a love of people to help clients use technology to better their lives. Initially targeting the senior demographic, Jennifer started Computer Tutors For Seniors, training them to use technology to maintain independence and stay connected with families. As tablets, smartphones and eReaders changed the way we communicate and do business, requests for instruction came increasingly from a younger audience. This led Jennifer to change her business model and eGurus now provides technology training on all devices to a diverse client base.

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time. Most people have either been bullied, are being bullied or have been the bully at some point in their lives. Traditionally bullying has taken place in the workplace, home or school but a disturbing new trend of cyber bullying has developed over the years. This is proving to be a much more dangerous form of bullying as these actions remain online permanently in most cases.

Kids nowadays not only have to worry about being bullied by their peers, but strangers are also targeting them online. A study run by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found that an astounding 88% of self-made sexual or suggestive images and videos posted by young people, usually on social networking sites, are taken from their original online location and uploaded onto other websites whose sole purpose is to display sexually explicit images and videos.

IWF’s study revealed that over a four-week period, a total of 12,224 images and videos were analyzed and logged. I was shocked to learn that of these 12,224 images and videos that were being monitored on 68 different websites, 10,776 were later found on porn websites. These numbers are frightening.

It was only just a generation ago that kids could make a mistake, endure the consequences, learn from the mistake and then move on. Now moving on is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, with the permanent nature of online content.

Many young adults have naively shared suggestive photos and videos online, only to discover they are now in the wrong hands and subject to ridicule from their peers. It is only natural for these young adults to feel regret and embarrassment. Unfortunately those feelings more often than not turn into depression and in some cases, this sense of helplessness can become too overwhelming and sadly lead to suicide.

So how can we stop this? Education.

Young adults:
More education is needed to help young adults understand that once a photo or video is shared online, it is now exposed to the public. As the IWF study demonstrates, once a photo or video becomes public, it can easily be found and redistributed without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

It is not uncommon to hear heartbreaking stories of young adults whose friends have posted pictures online without their permission.  This is a very unfortunate and unfair situation as those actions can haunt the friend for years to come. Most organizations run online checks on new job applicants to learn more about the person they are considering for hire. Even universities are increasingly requesting access to a scholarship hopeful’s social media accounts before acceptance, to ensure that the recipient will represent the school in a respectful manner.

More education is needed for adults to better understand the risks their children are exposed to online. Parents need to take responsibility and continually teach their child the importance of treating others as you would like to be treated. That saying hits home for me personally as I am a survivor of bullying. My 5th grade was one of the most challenging years of my youth. I suddenly had no friends, cried most days and felt very isolated. Because of this, I have always instilled in my daughter how unacceptable bullying is, how it had made me feel and how important it is to be respectful of others.

Thankfully, my bullying story ends on a good note. After coming across my name in an article, my bully phoned me up and apologized for the anguish she had caused me some 25 years ago.

We may never be able to eliminate bullying completely, but we can certainly be diligent in educating our youth in the basic value of treating others how they would like to be treated.


Jennifer Cairns
eGurus Technology Tutors
Visit Jennifer’s website


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