Do They Truly Intend to Harm Their Friends?: The Motives Beyond Cyberbullying among University Students

Do They Truly Intend to Harm Their Friends?: The Motives Beyond Cyberbullying among University Students

Budianto Hamuddin (Graduate School Hasanuddin University, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia), Syahdan Syahdan (Universitas Lancang Kuning, Pekanbaru. Indonesia), Fathu Rahman (Hasanuddin University, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia), Dian Rianita (Universitas Katolik Atmajaya, Indonesia) and Tatum Derin (Universitas Lancang Kuning, Pekanbaru. Indonesia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJCBPL.2019100103

Abstract

This present study probes and reveals the student's motives in their online interactive communication which can be considered as a cyberbullying act. The data is collected from 157 blog archives and interview sessions with 12 selected students. These students were selected purposively from Universitas Lancang Kuning, Indonesia, due to their high frequency of producing comments in their blogs which are cyberbullying in nature. From a total of 6,259 comments, this study focused on 255 that indicates online aggression. Data analysis reveals in detail three most common motives of cyberbullying among university students in their online interactive communication, i.e., just for fun (79%), to fight back (9%), and to express upsetting feelings (5%). Thus, this study's findings are different from past and present studies about cyberbullying, which sees cyberbullying fully as a threat as a common point. Instead of seeing cyberbullying as only a danger, this study clearly sees in some parts that cyberbullying can simply be an act of playing or exaggerating with language.
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Introduction

Interaction is highly necessary as it is one of the most crucial ways children learn valuable lessons and skills. Living in a social hierarchy that encourages competition, however friendly it may be, anyone can be susceptible to bullying, whether they are the perpetrator or the victim. The frustrations from the pressure of outperforming others, overcoming obstacles or interaction in general can be let out using various ways, such as crying, writing, talking, exercising, creating art, and also bullying, which involves embarrassment, humiliation, harassment and threat toward a person (most often a preteen and teenager). The most common forms of traditional bullying are pushing, pulling, punching in a hurtful way, spreading bad rumors, isolating someone out of the “group”, and causing people to “gang up” on someone. Bullying is traditionally limited to direct interaction, but with the advent of affordable and personal computers in the 1990s, bullying is more elusive with the web’s anonymity as a perfect cover (Donegan, 2012). Technological bullying, more commonly known as cyberbullying, is done by sending one or multiple text or e-mail consisting of threats, sexual remarks or hate speech, posting nasty messages or pictures, and using someone else’s username to spread rumors (otherwise known as identity stealing). All interactions that are done with the intent of causing emotional distress is bullying, but cyberbullying can be a harsher form of abuse than traditional bullying as its viral and highly personal nature can cut deeply into the minds of the digital technology users, particularly the modern generation that grew up with smartphones and social media.

Numerous studies and cases proved that cyberbullying has severely negative effects. A teenager (15-year-old) boy from Canada filmed himself doing a Star Wars scene, and when his classmates posted it, his unwilling fame made him feel humiliated the student dropped out of school (Li, 2007). He sought counseling to recover but many others sought death (Schwartz, 2010). A preteen (13-year-old) Hope Sitwell killed herself due to her nude picture being sent across six high schools by her own boyfriend. Similarly, an adolescent (18-year-old) Jessica Logan committed suicide after her boyfriend sent nude pictures of her across seven high schools. An adult university student Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge after his roommate livestreamed him kissing another man. These cases illustrate the reason why cyberbullying can be a lot more dangerous than traditional bullying, that is its sheer visibility to millions of people around the world. With suicides being one of the worst-case scenarios of cyberbullying, this devastating effect has painted cyberbullying as a highly serious threat for decades (Litwiller & Brausch, 2013).

Cyberbullying has been studied by researchers from various backgrounds, including but not limited to, psychology, sociology, education, IT, and criminology, and also from various countries. A survey on 360 (12-20-year-old) students in Sweden examined the nature of cyberbullying act, and came up with four categories, i.e., text message, email, phone call, and picture/video clip (Slonje & Smith, 2008). It considered age, gender, perceived impact, confidence on someone else, and adult perception. The survey found that gender differences in cyberbullying are few, the impacts are perceived as highly negative with picture/video being the most significant, and the victims most often chose to either tell their friends or none at all so adult awareness on cyberbullying among students are actually low.

Another factor contributing to low awareness in adults is that cyberbullying typically occurs outside of school according to a study done in the United States (Salus, 2012). Due to this, cyberbullying is typically discovered by the staff members of educational institutions after the negative effects can be glimpsed from the students. This means that students are often found to have been bullied in the cyberspace after the damages of cyberbullying has occurred and affected their psychological and academic well-being.

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