TELUS, one of Canada’s mobile carriers and communications companies, recently announced the premiere of their latest TELUS Originals documentary, Dark Cloud, spotlighting the stories and life-altering impacts of cyberbullying in Canada. Many people are spending more time online during the pandemic, from socializing to schooling, this film shares insights into what causes cyberbullying and how we can stop it. 

Research has shown that women are the most targeted when it comes to cyberbullying, especially women of colour as Meghan Markle recently pointed out. She stopped using social media herself four years ago, as have many other women. She and husband Prince Harry established the Archewell Foundation to deal with this very issue.

“Cyberbullying poses one of the most pervasive threats to Canadians’ mental health. TELUS produced Dark Cloud to raise awareness of this issue, telling important stories that will help to raise awareness, start a dialogue, and ultimately, create lasting change,” said Jill Schnarr, Chief Communications Officer at TELUS. “Through our TELUS Wise program, TELUS has long been dedicated to helping Canadians rise above cyberbullying. Dark Cloud is an extension of our ongoing efforts to #EndBullying and ensure Canadians stay safe online.”

Bell Canada is also known for its approach to mental health through the Let’s Talk program which focuses on mental health in the broader sense, but does address cyberbullying as well. Several years ago, women who suffered through horrible cyberbullying on Reddit rallied and have now taken back their online space and begun to address men’s issues directly on Reddit as this article shows.

The documentary features tireless anti-bullying advocate Carol Todd as she connects with parents, victims, and academics from across Canada to educate viewers on the devastating effects of cyberbullying. Statistics show that cyberbullying and digital antagonism remain a widespread issue, have tragic long-term effects, and more frequently harm members of the LGBTQ+ community:  

  • 60 percent of Canadian youth report seeing cyberbullying or online abusive behaviour within a four week period
  • 41 percent of young internet users who experienced cyberbullying reported an emotional, psychological or mental health condition
  • 49 percent of LGBTQ+ students have experienced cyberbullying

The challenge of cyberbullying is not going to go away easily, but documentaries such as these help expose the issue and encourage people to find solutions. Some Canadian provinces have tried to address the issue of cyberbullying through legislation. But he laws aren’t very strong.

Ontario is taking some steps now with Bill 154, brought into law in September of 2020, but doesn’t have much in the way of teeth to do anything. Nova Scotia enacted a new law, but it tends towards litigation and does little to help anyone without money.

Aside from privacy issues and the current state of politics when it comes to social media, the issue of cyberbullying is one that the major social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter will have to address more deeply. Reddit has started facing this and its racism issue, but is it enough? Facebook has seemingly failed with at best, lacklustre efforts and Twitter is trying harder.

It’s important that TELUS took on this issue and produced such a documentary. The more it is exposed, the more discussion that happens and the more women stay strong and engage on social media, the more likely it is these keyboard cowards will lose their voice.

More Insight: Check out this helpful article on how to get ahead of body shame.

Author: Alexa Hurst is a staff writer for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Optimyz Magazine based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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