Social aggression: A study of Internet harassment
Barbara Lacey, Hofstra University, United States
Hofstra University . Awarded
The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate the growing problem of Internet cyber-bullying, a form of social aggression, from the viewpoint of adolescents, ages 11-15. Cyber-bullying refers to bullying via electronic communication tools. In this study teasing, bullying, and harassment mean socially aggressive behaviors, i.e. physical threats, name calling, spread of rumors, exclusion, or pretending to be some else.
A pilot study using the first draft of the Online Interactive Survey, designed by the researcher using SNAP 8, was conducted for the purpose of checking for age appropriate questioning, syntax, vocabulary and format. After changes, the final web-based survey of 693 participants, in grades 5-8, in an upper middle class suburban school district was conducted. The results show that almost one half (41.5%) of participants were cyber-victims, 29.1% admitted cyber-bullying, and 59.2% of cyber-victims were cyber-bullies.
There are no statistically significant gender differences for cyber-victims or cyber-bullies. Eighth graders are more likely to be cyber-victims, and cyber-bullies. Name calling through instant messaging (IM) is preferred by adolescents to harass, followed by teasing about how someone looks, spreading of rumors, hurting a peer's reputation, and physical threats.
In a separate question about in school and online harassment, 42.6% of participants report being teased in school, and 20.6% are teased in school and online. Males experience more teasing in school (49.3%) than do females (35.2%), and females (25.2%) are more likely to be teased in school and online than are males (16.5%).
Internet access points at home and time spent online were examined. There is a statistically significant weak positive relationship between home access to a computer or time spent online and whether or not students tease others. The more access to a home computer or time spent online might lead to cyber-bullying. Eighth graders have the most access to electronic tools and spend the most time online, making eighth grade a prime time to experience cyber-space bullying, either as a victim or bully. These results suggest several avenues of further research needed to explain how Internet harassment impacts our adolescents today, socially and academically.
Lacey, B. Social aggression: A study of Internet harassment. Ph.D. thesis, Hofstra University.
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