The Bystander Effect & Cyber Ethics

Find a resource (a website, video or storybook) for teaching a topic related to cyber ethics and share this with the community. Provide a brief explanation.

I teach psychology at a senior secondary level in the ACT, In the unit of Human Relationships, there is room for the discussion of the bystander effect. A well-researched phenomenon, the bystander effect poses that the more people who watch something bad happening, the less likely any single person will offer help. Why? The responsibility to help is diffused amongst the group, as it’s easier to be an anonymous viewer. There’s evidence to suggest that simply being aware of the bystander effect makes us less susceptible to it – encouraging students that they can and should be the hero is important. If not taught in the context of the Human Relationships unit, we can use principles of the bystander effect to help combat bullying. Telling students that it’s their responsibility to help no matter how many people are present is an important lesson. We know that anonymity, or depersonalisation increases the effect, we also know that students spend a lot of time online and that the internet enhances feelings of anonymity. I have linked below to an article that could be used to prompt a critical discussion about the bystander effect and cyberbullying. When I’ve used this piece before it has been in a larger discussion about Altruism and associated ethics in an online landscape.

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