Children's Charity Bullies Mobile Toting Bullies For Money
from the who's-exploiting-who-here? dept
We've learned to be extra cautious whenever we see stories coming out with studies sponsored by NCH, a "children's charity" in the UK that seems to get a lot of publicity. The organization has a history of coming out with obviously biased and poorly done studies, and then trumpeting up points that clearly were not supported by the actual study they did. They blamed the internet for child porn (rather than, say, the child pornographers). They created a ridiculously biased study to make it look like parents hated 3G phones because they might be used for child porn. They made incredibly misleading statements suggesting that 11-year-old kids were gambling online, when there was no evidence at all to support it (and the report was paid for by a company selling age verification tools to gambling companies) -- and they claimed any parent who didn't agree with them was uneducated. Their latest hype-inducing report is now out, and it covers the topic of cyber-bullying with mobile phones. Of course, this isn't a new issue at all. It's been covered many times before by a variety of sources. So what's new with this study? Well, actually, if you look at the details, it shows that such bullying is decreasing! However, that's not what you will read in the stories covering the report. Instead, you'll read that there is an "urgent need to tackle mobile bullying before it ruins more lives." Ruins more lives? Bullying -- mobile or not -- is a serious issue. But, nowhere does the evidence show that anyone's lives were ruined because of bullying. Also, bullying is unlikely to just be limited to "mobile bullying." Blaming the technology doesn't help the problem -- and kids will just find other ways to bully. Also, the group has a very broad definition of bullying: including anyone who was "embarrassed" by something on a mobile phone. They include an example that hardly appears to be bullying at all -- where a stupid boyfriend sent his friends private cameraphone photos of his girlfriend, and those friends passed them around. That's not "bullying," that's an obnoxious boyfriend who shouldn't have sent those photos out. However, the end of this article sheds a little more light on all this misplaced hype. Following this report, a telco is starting a service where kids can send text messages to get more info on bullying. Of course, the text messages cost money -- and all of the proceeds are (you guessed it) going back to NCH. This isn't to trivialize the issue of childhood bullying -- but blaming the technology with misleading stats and misplaced anecdotal stories doesn't solve bullying. It just gets people to donate more money so your charity can put out more misleading reports.