Cyber Bullying and Victimization: Psychosocial Characteristics of Bullies, Victims, and Bully/Victims
This study explored cyber bullying and victimization. The use of technology as a vehicle for peer victimization is increasing and is associated with a risk of psychosocial maladjustment (Finkelhor, et al., 2000; Wolak, et al., 2006; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004a, 2004b). It is thought to peak during middle school (Harris & Petrie, 2002); thus, the sample included 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who identified themselves as cyber bullies, victims, or bully/victims. Hypotheses were as follows: face-to-face bullies and victims would also be involved in cyber bullying and victimization, with females being more involved than males; cyber bullying and victimization would be associated with psychosocial maladjustment; externalizing behaviors would be more common among cyber bullies while internalizing symptoms, loneliness and low self-esteem would be more common among cyber victims; cyber bully/victims and individuals who were victims of both face-to-face bullying and cyber bullying would exhibit the poorest overall psychosocial adjustment. The study also sought to identify predictor variables related to cyber victimization, with loneliness and low self-esteem hypothesized as the most predictive. Analyses included chi-square tests of independence, a series of one-way ANOVAS and discriminant function analysis. Assessments included the Youth Self (Achenbach, 1991) (for internalizing, externalizing and total problems), the Children's Loneliness Scale (Asher & Wheeler, 1985) for loneliness, and the Self-Esteem Questionnaire-Short Form (DuBois, et al., 1996) for peer and global self-esteem.
Results indicated that 69% of participants were involved in cyber bullying and/or victimization. A significant overlap was found among face-to-face bullies and victims and cyber bullies and victims. Females were over-represented among cyber bullies, victims, and bully/victims. The psychosocial characteristics of cyber victims, and bully/victims included externalizing behaviors, total problems, and low peer self-esteem. Cyber bullies did not endorse any psychosocial symptoms of maladjustment. Cyber bully/victims and victims of both face-to-face and cyber bullying exhibited the poorest psychosocial adjustment. Externalizing behaviors and total problems were most predictive of cyber victim status. Increased awareness about the use of technology as a vehicle for bullying and identification of potential problems associated with cyber bullying and victimization will aid parents, educators, and psychologists in developing intervention and prevention strategies.
Advisor:Danette Wollersheim; Darrell Stolle; Christine Fiore; Greg Machek; Margaret Beebe-Frankenberger
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/15/2009