Teenagers are now using media technology, including cell / mobile phones, personal data assistants, and the internet to communicate with others in the their country and throughout the world. Communication avenues, such as chat rooms, text messaging, and social networking websites (such as Facebook) have allowed them to easily develop any relationships, even with people they have never met in person.
Media technology has many potential benefits for youth. It allows teenagers to communicate with family and friends on a regular basis. This technology also provides opportunities to make social connections for those teens and pre-teens who have difficulty developing friendships in traditional social settings or because of limited contact with same-aged peers. In addition, regular Internet access allows young people to quickly increase their knowledge on a wide variety of topics.
Teenager boys texting on his phone. However, the explosion in communication tools and avenues does not come without possible risks. Youth can use electronic media to embarrass, harass or threaten their peers. Increasing numbers of teens and pre-teens are becoming victims of this new form of violence. Although many different terms-such as cyberbullying, Internet harassment, and Internet bullying-have been used to describe this type of violence, electronic aggression is the term that most accurately captures all types of violence that occur electronically. Like traditional forms of youth violence, electronic aggression is associated with emotional distress and conduct problems at school. In fact, recent research suggests that youth who are victimized electronically are also very likely to also be victimized off-line (i.e., sexually harassed, psychological or emotional abuse by a caregiver, witnessing an assault with a weapon, and being raped). 1
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – USA – convened a panel of experts to discuss issues related to the emerging public health problem of electronic aggression. The panel included representatives from research universities, public school systems, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations. A special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health summarizes the data and recommendations from this expert panel meeting.
The following resources provide additional information on electronic aggression, youth violence prevention, and safe schools.