Lawyers in schools

Cell phone time is down, but online hate remains

14.05.2024 16:30

As part of a new project, lawyers are educating pupils about the legal consequences of online bullying. For some young people, social networks have even become too much: WhatsApp, YouTube and the like are being used by fewer and fewer young people.

"You're shy" or "you're dressed inappropriately" - a friend of Isabella's receives comments like these when she uploads videos of herself to TikTok. "She says she doesn't care, but it really gets to her," says 17-year-old vocational school student Isabella Moser about her friend.

Zitat Icon

If you post something on the internet, you should bear in mind that not everyone will find you beautiful.

Isabella Moser (17), Einzelhandels- Lehrling aus Steyr

Not an isolated case: "I've also reported people when I've seen hateful comments, for example against certain ethnic groups," says Kaan Özcan (21), apprentice textile retailer. "Cyberbullying has increased a lot in the last five years. You say the wrong thing, it goes viral and half the world knows your face," says the 21-year-old.

What many users probably forget in the heat of typing: Verbal abuse not only hurts the virtual counterpart, it can also be punishable by law.

"Freedom of expression has limits"
A project by the Upper Austrian Bar Association and the Upper Austrian Education Directorate aims to educate people about this. Lawyers are touring schools and giving free presentations. "We didn't expect the demand to be so high," says Deputy Provincial Governor and Education Officer Christine Haberlander (ÖVP). Since the start of the project last fall, 323 school classes have taken part.

On Tuesday, it was the turn of vocational school 7 in Linz. "Freedom of expression means you can say what you want. But it has limits," said lawyer Franz Raffaseder. "It does not protect untruths and insults."

Pupils for cell phone ban
During the "Krone" visit, not a single pupil pulled out their cell phone to chat quickly. Not the only surprise: Kaan and Isabella would have no problem giving up their smartphones at all during lessons. Kaan even says: "A cell phone ban would make sense on many levels."

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More should be said about cyberbullying because those affected are afraid to speak out.

Kaan Özcan (21), Einzelhandels- Lehrling aus Linz

The 21-year-old used to spend four to five hours on social networks after school, but now he mainly uses his cell phone to keep in touch with family and friends.

Young people are using fewer platforms
According to an Austria-wide study by, "only" 76% of young people between the ages of 11 and 17 now use WhatsApp, compared to 96% in the previous year. Instagram use is down by four percent and YouTube by 24 percent. Only four out of 14 platforms are used more frequently.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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