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Bullying Goes Tweeting Essay Sample

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I. INTRODUCTION
A. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Bullying is defined as a specific type of repeated aggression in which the behavior is intended to harm or disturb and there is an imbalance of power (Nansel, et. al., 2001, as cited in Montes &Halterman 2007) or a ‘‘victim–perpetrator’’ dimension (Einarsen and Skogstad, 1996; Keashly, 1998, as cited in LaVan& Martin, 2008) and which are unwanted by the victim, which may be done deliberately, or unconsciously, but clearly cause humiliation, offense, distress, may interfere with job performance, and/or cause an unpleasant working environment (Einarsen, 1999, as cited in Heames& Harvey, 2006).

Most of the time, bullying can be categorized into three: physical, emotional, and verbal bullying. Physical bullying usually involves behaviors that intentionally inflict bodily harm like hitting, pushing, punching, and kicking (Wilson, 2011). The second type, emotional bullying, refers to the cases where a person is made to feel isolated and ridiculed largely through mechanism such as teasing, shouting, mocking and ignoring; this is a case where the bullying does not necessarily have a physical component and for that reason it is sometimes harder to spot or rectify (Anonymous, 2006). The last type, verbal bullying, is name-calling, making offensive remarks, or joking about a person’s religion, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or the way they look (Time for Tolerance, n.d.).

However, because of the fast development of technology, a new form of bullying has risen, and it is in the form of cyber bullying. Viewed as an extension of traditional bullying, this kind of bullying is also aggressive and is typically repetitive (Agatston, n.d.). There is still power imbalance, but cyber bullying’s has more to do with the ability to reach such a wide audience and humiliate, cause fear, or virtually destroy the reputation of another with a single click of a mouse or the send button on a mobile phone, in contrast to traditional bullying where the power imbalance may involve a student who is older, bigger, stronger, or more popular picking on a youth who is younger, weaker, or who has fewer friends (Agatston, n.d.). Cyber bullying can be done through email, instant messaging (IMing), chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages or images send to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (Kowalski et al. 2008, as cited in Olweus, 2011).

One of the most used means of cyber bullying is through social networking sites. In fact, 32% of online teens have experienced some forms of online harassment like having received threatening messages, being victims of spread rumors, and being embarrassed because of someone posting a picture of them online without permission. One of the social networking sites that is a possible ground for this crime is Twitter. As NewsBlaze LLC (n.d.) explains it, twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, “What are you doing?”by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.” It became existent in 2006 and was founded by Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone. Since then, it has become a hit worldwide.

Cyber bullying acts can be linked to the different features of the social networking site. Besides, there must be a reason on why cyber bullies choose Twitter as the venue for these acts. The most basic of which is the “tweet”. It is the most fundamental unit of the site, these are updates sent and read by Twitter users. Its 140-character allowable also makes it a kind of “microblogging”. Just like SMS phones, it also has the “message” feature. The “mention” feature allows you to include the account names of other Twitter users. You can also reply to their mentions by clicking the “reply” button on the bottom of the tweets. The “retweet” feature will allow you to send to your followers the tweets of other Twitter users regardless of whether they are being followed or not. The “search” bar will allow you to look for other Twitter users by typing their name. Another function of the “search” is by typing a word or phrase, tweets with those words will be shown to you. Because of these unique features, the researchers will examine whether these Twitter services can be accounted to the prevalence of cyber bullying acts in the said site.

Over the past few months, there has been notable cyber bullying incidents against different personalities through the social networking site Twitter. One of which was Christopher Lao, a UP Diliman Law student who gambled passing through a flooded street in Quezon City and ends up blaming everybody, except himself, for why his car floated in the middle of the street. He argues that no one informed him that the level of water was capable of resulting to such. His interview was shown in GMA and starting then, he became the butt of all jokes, degrading comments, and negative reactions. These cyber bullying acts were all over the net and Twitter’s “trending” feature just proved how fast-dispersing and widespread the issue is. Another similar instance is that of James Soriano.

In his essay “Language, learning, identity, privilege”, he regarded the Filipino as the language of the streets, the “unprivileged”. This caused an online firestorm especially on Twitter, where he, like Lao, was included in the trending topics. Not only were the cyber bullying acts the only things that circulated Twitter, but also the article itself was passed to users through links in their tweets. Due to the nature of Twitter being a tool for turning issues into fast-dispersing and widespread ones, and its unique features that either weaken or aggravate the issue at hand, the researchers believe that Twitter and its features will be worthy of being studied.

B. RESEARCH PROBLEM and OBJECTIVES
The problem that the researchers seek to answer using this study is: How do the features of Twitter affect the prevalence of cyber bullying in the said site?
The major objective of this study is to know how features of Twitter affect the prevalence of cyber bullying in the said site. In relation to this, the researchers seek to know how prevalent bullying is in Twitter and who are mostly affected by the crime. They also seek to know the different forms of cyber bullying that occur in Twitter and identify which of these happens the most frequent. The researchers will want to link the different features of Twitter to the different forms of cyber bullying. After identifying the different forms of cyber bullying that occur in twitter and linking it to the features of the site, the researchers will be able to conclude about the effectiveness of twitter when it comes to providing security measures

C. SIGNIFICANCE
Two of the main purposes of this study is bullying prevention and awareness. The researchers believe that this study will be able to debilitate bullying activity as they are well-aware that the “long-term psychological harm to victims”, including its reflection to “self-esteem, depression, anxiety, anger, school failure, school avoidance, suicide and school violence” (Willard, n.d., p.3) should be halted. The researchers also found out that bullying is critical to one’s life, as what has been suggested, that “bullying may play a(n) important role in adolescents’ life in many societies” (Smith, et al., 1999, as cited in Li, 2007).

One of the primary benefiters of this study is the society. Since the main partakers of cyber bullying are from the community we are living in, this study will be of great help to the society. A large portion of this study is intended for the benefit of the Twitter users itself. This study will be able to pass to this part of the society, not only cyber bullying in Twitter, but everything about cyber bullying; thus, educating them, making them aware, and giving them the whole view of cyber bullying.

The Twitter management will also be a recipient of the benefits of this study. Knowing which of their measures are commendable, they will know how to improve it more. In the same way, the identification of the parts where they lack in action will give the management an idea of what new measure to implement.

The researchers believe that this study will give an idea to policy-makers where to implement an action regarding cyber bullying. When cyber bullying situations get out of Twitter’s hand, the policy-makers can always do something and with this study, what is taken for granted by Twitter or what is not given action is clarified and emphasized.

Not only is bullying prevention the important consideration of this study, but also bullying education. This responsibility lies on the hands of the academe. As the main source of educators, the academe is one of the recipients of the information that is gathered in this study. They will have the knowledge of what to teach in order for the community to understand what cyber bullying is all about, where it happens, how it can be prevented and what the community can do about it.

II. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
The evaluation of the features of Twitter that make it a venue for cyber bullying being the main concern of this study, this review of related literature provides studies regarding a.) cyber bullying and studies about it, b.) different forms of cyber bullying that can occur in Twitter, and c.) Twitter security over the years

A. Cyber bullying
One notable similarity between a lot of studies about cyber bullying is their concentration in one profession, the students. This is particularly because students have the most access to technologies used in cyber bullying, like the Internet, mobile phones, and the likes. Another thing is that aside from the working force, students have the most interaction with people; thus, more chance of having miscommunications or misunderstandings, which is one of the root causes of not just cyber bullying, but also traditional bullying. As what Bhat (2008) stated in her article Cyber Bullying: Overview and Strategies for School Counsellors, Guidance Officers, and All School Personnel, cyber bullying or bullying via information and communications technology tools such as the internet and mobile phones is a problem of growing concern with school-aged students. Although, of course, cyber bullying does not always take place in the school premises, “detrimental effects are experienced by victims of cyber bullying in schools” (Bhat, 2008, p.53).

Belsey (n.d.), president of Bullying.org Canada, even invented a term that will refer to the cyber technology-users of this time, the “Always On” generation. He differentiated that while the adults see the Internet as a resource or a “place they can go to” to serve their needs, the Always On generation don’t think of it as being separate from their lives, increasingly it is a normal and “natural part” of their world. Belsey (n.d.), out of the nine advices in his “An ounce of prevention, a word of advice for Netizens”, four of which are centered to the students, while two more use students as example. In addition to what Bhat stated, he said that cyber bullying is often outside of the legal reach of school and school boards as this behaviour often happens outside of school on home computers or via mobile phones. “It used to be that school and home were the places where kids went online and adults had some control over when and where they went online, but no more“ (Belsey, n.d.).

On the micro level, Li (2007) specified which student level contains the most prevalence of cyber bullying. “School bullying has been widely recognised as a serious problem and it is particularly persistent and acute during junior high and middle school periods” (National Center for Educational-Statistics, 1995, as cited in Li, 2007).

In relation to this, a number of studies have been using students as the indicators of how prevalent traditional and cyber bullying is. One study conducted a survey using students in London aged 11-16 and found out that 22% have been cyberbullied at least once and 6.6% more than once (Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, &Tippett, 2006). A study conducted in the United Kingdom, almost has the same result, that 20% of students from 11-19 have been cyberbullied (NCH, 2002, as cited in Bhat, 2008). On a similar study in the Unites States, however, middle school students being the respondents of the study, only 18% of the sample was reported having been cyberbullied (Kowalski & Limber, 2005, as cited in Bhat, 2008).

The researchers found out the reasons why cyber bullies choose Twitter as the site to get involved in. Its mediocre security has attracted bullies, more particularly, hackers. On the macro level, it has been found out that studies about cyber bullying has concentrated on the students. Several suggestions were also included in this review of related literature on how the security measures of Twitter, not only against cyber bullying, can be improved.

B. Different forms of cyber bullying
Sheridan (2010) lists some of the types of cyber bullying which the researchers have filtered to only those possible to occur in Twitter.

Cyber Stalking – The transmission of messages to intimidate and or threaten the victim resulting in a child to have concerns about their personal safety and well being. Degradation – This would be the use of rumors and unfounded gossip in an attempt to break up the friendships the victim might have with others or to damage the kid’s reputation. Harassment – This is the constant and unrelenting sending of offensive, insulting, rude and harassing messages over the internet or cell phone to the Cyber Bullying Victim. Impersonation – The taking on of a false identity pretending to be the victim and send or posts material to damage the child’s reputation or get them into trouble. Flaming – This a very aggressive and abrasive form of intimidation used by the aggressor using vulgar and angry language with the intent to start fights with the teenager or preteen. Password Theft – Gaining access to the child’s passwords used on the internet and uses it to log into the sites the child has and locks them out, also allowing other to hack the account. Images or Photos – The posting of photos or images that are found that might be embarrassing in nature or the creation or altering of images to depict the boy or girl and cause humiliation.

C. Twitter security over the years
In a study by Brodkin (2010) entitled Facebook vs. Twitter: Battle for Web users intensifies as Facebook fends off privacy complaints, he was able to pinpoint what the problem in Twitter’s security is. In a statement by Twitter, they said that tweets are intended to be read by the public. Having said that, Twitter users have the option whether to let someone “follow” him/her. This is opposed to the very complicated privacy settings provided by Facebook. In 2009, famous Twitter users (e.g. celebrities) and even founders of the social networking site has experienced the failure in the security of Twitter. Hacking has been the major cause of this dilemma. Schroeder (2009) in his Twitter’s Security Meltdown, gives the blame to Twitter. According to him, “most aspects of Twitter – user accounts, admin accounts, various personal accounts of important people in the company’s hierarchy, Evan Williams, are (or at least, have been) security Swiss cheese”. What he thought would be the solution of the problem is the “they need to improve their overall track record when it comes to security”.

While Schroeder’s statement has been all-blame-to-Twitter, the same incident has been elaborated in Lowensohn and McCarthy’s (2009) Lessons From Twitter’s Security Breach. According to them, it is unfair that all blames are directed to Twitter. Over the years, sites have been connecting themselves to other sites. For example, in Facebook, one has the option to connect his account to his Twitter account; one tweet in Twitter means one update in Facebook. This is what Lowensohn and McCarthy had reasoned. They added, “with the likes of e-mail contact importing and data-portability services like Facebook Connect now commonplace, a savvy hacker can have access to multiple accounts simply by accessing one”. Following this, their solution lies on the hands of users themselves. A good password, according to them, is important. Aside from that, having a good system provided by Twitter will make it hard for people to just get into others’ accounts.

In a more recent study by Wolfe (2011), again, hacked accounts in Twitter have been the problem. As an example, he used the Twitter account @foxnewspolitics, hackers who are said to have gotten in the account, tweeted about the death of U.S. President Barack Obama. According to investigators, the lax security of the said account is the reason why the hackers chose the account. Ina statement by Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, taking security seriously is the solution to preventing these incidents from happening.

III. FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY
This part of the study aims to outline a clear theoretical framework. To begin with, theories are discussed that are used by the researchers to help in their study.

A. Social Dominance Theory

Formulated by Sidanius and Pratto, the Social Dominance Theory, which integrates components of psychology, sociology and political science, explores the way psychological, intergroup and institutional processes interact with one another to produce and maintain these group-based, hierarchical social structures. (Jost and Sidanius, 2004) It seeks to explain prejudice and aggression among members of larger societies, may provide an explanation for the occurrence of peer aggression. (Sanders and Phye, 2004 )

The theory discusses the several mechanisms by which hierarchies are developed and maintained (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999).The phenomenon of bullying behavior is more likely the result of dominant individuals who embrace the myths that legitimize hierarchies, called a social dominance orientation. According to Sanders and Phye (2004):

Human beings create social dominance hierarchies. This kind of behavior is being favored since clearly established hierarchies can serve to minimize conflict or better be able to attack other groups. With this, human beings feel at ease when hierarchies are established.

With this, it may be seen as that bullying is an adaptive behavior. Scholars such as Hawley (1999), discloses that students tend to bully weaker students in order to increase their status.

Smith (2010) stated that:

The perception that cyber bullies have more power and more social status than victims encourages others to give them higher social status among peer groups. However, unlike many students cited within dominance theory, a cyber bully does not have to be physically larger or stronger than the victim. Simply having the technical knowledge needed to use technology and navigate the Internet is enough to become dominant in the virtual world.

B. General Strain Theory

The General Strain Theory focuses on the individual effects of strain, and how it is that that strain then leads a person towards delinquency and crime (Cernkovich, Giordano & Rudolph, 2000, as mentioned in Nash & Anderson, 2002). It can be explained in this core idea: individuals who experience strains or stressors often become upset and sometimes cope with crime.

This theory also provides a theoretical link between cyber bullying, stress and negative behaviors among people (Agnew, 2001 as mentioned in Smith, 2010). It creates negative effects such as depression, sadness, etc. (which, within the theory is identified as strains).

C. Social Cognitive theory

This theory states that people tend to behave what they observe. Also, social cognitive theory involves the ways social networks, like those found in the school setting and within online networks, may influence bullying behaviors. (Bandura, 2002 as mentioned in Smith, 2010).

Online interactions are dehumanized because users are only depicted by names, avatars or pictures (Matei, 2010). With this, cyber bullies may see the victims as just objects on a screen, not humans. Thus, they tend to be cruel and have the confidence to bully others.

The researchers have decided on focusing the framework with the factors that may lead to cyberbullying. The researchers believe that with this framework, they can be able to pinpoint what kinds factors can also contribute to cyberbullying that they think can be prevented. This framework also helped in developing their approach on how they will conduct this study.

Strains experienced, as discussed in the General Strain theory, are more at risk to engage in delinquent behaviors (such as cyberbullying). These strains may be caused by different factors such as the environment, media, etc.Being affected by other factors such as the ‘myths’ or stereotypes or roles set by the society may also lead to cyberbullying. With the benefit of being anonymous, people tend to find social networks as the best outlets. Aside from that, the dehumanizing effect encourages the user to use the social network than other venues or mediums. With these, the user finally becomes a cyberbully.

IV. METHODOLOGY
A. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

The researchers opt to use quantitative and qualitative research methods to obtain data from the respondents. The quantitative method will be used to structure the demographics of the respondents, to know the Internet use habits of the respondents, and to know how much their satisfaction is in the different security measures provided by twitter. The qualitative side will be used to get a more in-depth insight from the respondents.

The researchers will use two data-gathering procedures for the study. These will be survey and focus interview.
The survey aims to know the profiles of the respondents and get a background on their “tweeting” habits. Surveys with open-ended questions in studies on bullying are quite common. However, the researchers experimented with the questions and added a new formula, Twitter, to its survey, making it have an edge. The survey can only do so much. Since it is only on a piece of paper, this may limit the respondent’s answers; thus, the use of a qualitative method, focus interview. The focus interview may compensate from the short answers expected from the survey. Though this will provide a detailed result from the respondents, it will also be time consuming. Another disadvantage of the interview is that it is face-to-face. This may jeopardize the reliability of the answers given by the respondent. With the survey, the respondent may feel comfortable to disclose any information to the researchers. Though it may give the researchers to collect data since they are using two methods, the researchers feel that it is necessary.

The time scope of the study will be good for one semester. This study does not require a lot of time and interpreting the data collected can be done in a short span of time. Another reason is that the finding of respondents will be an easy task. Just login to Twitter and you will be able to interact with a lot of them.

B. CONCEPTS AND INDICATORS/VARIABLES AND MEASURES
With the framework focusing more on how cyberbullying occurred, the researchers were able to come up with the approach on the methodology. With not only internal factors being the cause of this kind of behavior (cyberbullying), the researchers have also included to find out what other factors are, especially why these people use Twitter. Also, the researchers want to find out how much of this dehumanizing effect occurs in a person and how much it aggravates their cyberbullying habits. The researchers will also be able to see how much of these different factors aggravate a user’s behaviour and their different kinds of cyberbullying or tweeting habits.

To be able to further utilize the framework, the researchers believe that they will only be able to achieve their objectives by having two sets of data-gathering.

C. RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS

The questions included in the survey form are structured by the researchers. Included in the survey are questions whether they have already experienced cyber bullying and a likert scale to know how often the respondents are bullied (or if not at all). The Likert scale will be five-level, including not at all, a few times, regularly, most of the time, and always. Another scale of this kind will be used to identify the level of satisfaction Twitter users experience when using the different features of the social networking site.

There will also be an interview guide for the focus interview part. Questions will be structured by the researchers. Follow-up questions can also be asked by the researchers in the actual interview process if necessary.

D. UNITS OF ANALYSIS AND SAMPLING

Both methods that will be used in the study will use a probability sampling procedure. This will ensure that there will be random and equal chance between the individuals of the population. Random sampling will be the method for choosing the respondents for both the survey and the focus interview.

The respondents of the study will be Twitter users that are students, aged 15-24. Sysomos (2011) identified this age bracket to be having the most users of the said social networking site, accounting to 66%.

The researchers opt to have the respondents limited to Philippine (as much as possible Metro Manila) users of Twitter for easy data-gathering. With it only limited to Philippine users, certain issues that have occurred only in the country may be raised and easily verified. Another reason is that Social Media Today (2011) identified the urban areas as having the plurarity of Twitter users.

E. DATA GATHERING/GENERATION

Surveys will be made and published online. Using one researcher’s Twitter account, links to the survey will be sent through the “mention” feature or message of Twitter.
Randomly chosen Twitter users that are possible respondents of the focus interview will be messaged through the social networking site about our study and invitation for them to be part of it. If the Twitter users accept the invite, the place and schedule will be negotiated and based on the free time of both the researchers and the respondents. A voice-recording device and note-taking will be used by the researchers for documenting the interview.

F. DATA ANALYSIS
For the survey part, where the 1st Likert scale was used, the researchers will tally how many of the respondents will answer 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. For the remaining two Likert scales, it will be the same, only it will be from 5 to 0. It will be tallied manually and a table will be used for organization. From the table, the researchers will be able to know if; first, how frequent the users log in in Twitter, second, how frequent the respondents are bullied, and last, how satisfied are the respondents of the different features of Twitter.

The focus interview will just be used for additional information from the Twitter users that the survey cannot provide.

G. SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
As discussed by the researchers in the previous paragraphs, the survey can only accommodate short and fixed answers, thus, will prevent any in-depth additions.
The focus interview, on the other hand, since it is face-to-face, may result to the jeopardy of the respondents and can affect the reliability of the answers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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