According to Baas it is difficult to guess how messages are interpreted online. ‘Adults already struggle with this let alone children.’
Baas sees that discussions often escalate because of misinterpretations. But there’s another important reason. ‘Adolescents have a false sense of safety. There is a lower boundary to say nasty things because there is no one to put them into their place.’
But is is not the Internet itself being so bad. The news media make it scary, says Baas. ‘We hear many sensational stories when it goes wrong.’ After news about suicides children’s helpdesks receive more phone calls from children who are also thinking about suicide because they are being bullied.
Baas: ‘Such media coverage sends the message that death is a solution, and confronts the children with the fact that apparently, their situation is that bad. We shouldn’t want this.’
Read more about the PhD project of Niels Baas in next edition of UT Nieuws Magazine, which will be published tomorrow (Thursday).