Kelly Dillon, the Communication Department’s newest professor, spoke to members of the Wittenberg community about her research on cyberbullying and cyber-harassment this past Thursday at the department’s annual spring 2018 colloquium.
At the event, Dillon spoke about the research that she has dedicated countless, long and grueling hours on. The research focuses on the affordances of the online environment and how people can use those resources to help people who encounter cyberbullying or online-harassment. Her scholarly work has been featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Pediatrics, the Huffington Post, at national and international conferences, Radio New Zealand and Dayton TV Channel Seven News.
Dillon began her presentation, titled “We Can Have Nice Things: How We Can Hack the Internet to Combat Trolls, Mobs, and Flamers, and Help Others Online,” defining what bullying is and its presence in the online world. Dillon says that someone’s actions need to meet three criteria for it to be considered bullying: it needs to be repetitive, it needs to be intentional and it needs to create or maintain a power imbalance.
After conducting the research, it showed that 70 percent of people notice cyberbullying online and 82 percent said they notice it more when the target responds and shows damage done by the remark. However, only 10 percent of people directly intervene when they see it and 21 percent directly intervene when they see it and the target response.
Dillon explained how there are five key things that have to happen for someone to help. First, they have to notice it. Second, it needs to be interpreted as an emergency. Three, you have to take responsibility (this is the step where most people stop). Fourth, they need to decide how to help and lastly, they have to act. If people can keep these simple steps in mind when online, then we can assume that the number of direct interventions raises.
Dillon explained several other ways that people can help band together and put an end to cyberbullying and harassment. You can download and sign up for the smart phone application called “Heart Mob,” that sends you a notification when cyberbullying has been reported and it allows you to come to the aid for the target and let the accuser know their actions wont be tolerated. For people who don’t want to directly get involved online, Dillon suggested direct-messaging the target and letting them know that you are by their side.
Over 100 people packed inside Bayley Auditorium to let Dillon know that her presentation was well received with thunderous applause and a very engaging and interactive question and answer session to conclude the evening.
“I really enjoyed Dr. Dillon’s presentation and found it super interesting to hear about the most successful ways to counter cyberbullying,” Tyler Everidge, ’18, said. “I think it challenged us and served as a call to action for us to intervene.”