Adolescents' Experiences of Cyberbullying: Gender, Age and Reasons for Not Reporting to Adults

Adolescents' Experiences of Cyberbullying: Gender, Age and Reasons for Not Reporting to Adults

Minghui Gao, Xu Zhao, Mark McJunkin
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2016100102
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This paper reports a multi-method study that investigated adolescents' experiences of cyberbullying. Sixty-one students (grades 10-12) responded to a survey that requires answers of both quantitative and qualitative nature. Quantitative data were statistically analyzed to understand frequencies and compare gender and grade differences. Qualitative data were coded to identify themes. Results suggest that a substantial portion of adolescents have experienced cyberbullying of various types. Significant gender differences exist in cyberstalking, with girls being more likely than boys to be subject to cyberstalking. Significant grade related differences exist in cyberstalking and exclusion, with 12th graders more likely to be victims of cyberstalking and exclusion than 10th and 11th graders. The majority of adolescents are unwilling to report cyberbullying experiences to adults due to reasons including lack of awareness or underestimating the negative effect of cyberbullying, fear of adults' overreaction, and the desire to deal with the problem by themselves.
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Cyberbullying is “a unique form of bullying” (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010, p. 614) that involves “sending or posting harmful or cruel text or images using the Internet or other digital communication devices” (Willard, 2004, p.1). Cyberbullying has become prevalent among adolescents due to the distancing effect of technological devices that makes it easier for youth to say and do cruel things to others compared to what is typical in traditional face-to-face bullying situations (Donegan, 2012; National Center for Education Statistics, 2013; Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Cyberbullying can result in lasting negative impact on its victims, including not only harms on their mental health, social well-being, and experience of schooling, but also the quality of their future life and career as adults (Hoff & Mitchell, 2009; Mesch, 2009; Sahin, 2012). In extreme cases, it has also led to tragic suicide incidents (CBSNEWS, 2010; Friedman, 2010; Kennedy, 2010; Maag, 2007).

Cyberbullying takes different forms. The rapidly evolving information technology provides numerous easy avenues for spreading negative messages, and thus enables various forms of cyberbullying behaviors such as cyberstalking, denigration, exclusion, flaming, harassment, masquerade, and outing (Li, 2008; Notar, Padgett, & Roden, 2013; Willard, 2004, 2012). Although researchers have extensively explored cyberbullying and its impact on adolescent victims, few have investigated adolescents’ experience of particular types of cyberbullying and, importantly, when and why the victims report their experience to adults. The study reported here examined adolescents’ experiences of various forms of cyberbullying as well as their explanations of why they decide to report or not to report their experience as victims of cyberbullying. In the following sections, we first present the research literature on the nature of cyberbullying in comparison to traditional face-to-face bullying, the various forms of cyberbullying, and the factors that contribute to its prevalence among adolescents.

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