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The new Facebook bullies

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Information technology and social media are being used more and more by Cambodians as a way to interact with each other to share news, pictures and videos. But often, we ignore the danger that comes with social media.

Din Darathtey, 21, a fourth-year student at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, started using Facebook in 2009 and recently created a Twitter account. “People use Facebook not only for entertainment but for information as well,” she said.

She used Facebook every-day and recently noticed there are more videos of fights being uploaded. “It is not necessarily all bad. I think the good part is that it can expose the fact that violence is happening, and raise awareness.”

Regarding the upload of violent pictures and videos, Ly Sovannadara, 22, a law major at University of Cambodia, said he wouldn’t dare post videos of fights directly on his Facebook wall, out of fear of how it would impact others. However, he used to receive and also share some videos with friends.

“I did not expect to see girls fighting in a video. I was shocked, I always thought of girls to be modest and serious,” he said.

Khann Sareth, a psychology lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, pointed out that these videos can have a huge influence on young Cambodians, and poses a threat to their otherwise good-natured personalities. He added that teens are more likely to observe, learn and imitate the things around them.

“If people are born with aggressive behaviours, and watch violent videos, they are more likely to use violence to solve problems,” he said.

According to Internet World Stats, by June 2011 there were 329,680 Facebook users in Cambodia.

Din Darathtey added that “young people are not likely to have much consideration. Sometimes, they imitate violent videos because they think that it looks cool, and shows their strength.”

For 25-year-old Insok Kanha, this is a major problem in society. This type of behaviour shows a lack of authority in Cambodia and doesn’t aim to promote peace and co-operation. She brought up the drama of love triangles, and how they often result in violence. “When people have love affairs, it leads to violence and sometimes death. I do not need to see that,” she said.

Pen Samitthy, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and a founder of Cambodian Express News, says that he does not support uploading violent media on social networks. However, he has a more liberal view of using social media should it benefit others in society. In this sense, he encourages a younger generation of citizen journalists to spread information and keep themselves updated.

“People are responsible for everything they upload to social networks. They should be taught how to use these networks and the consequence of the actions,” he said.

Khann Sareth believes that people cannot escape from technology and social networks. They need to communicate with each other, yet “they should think and be careful about the impact of material they upload,” he said.  

Social media can be a powerful tool to spread information, but we must also be mindful of the information and messages that we want to send.

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