Cyberbullying in Adolescents

Cyberbullying is a new phenomenon defined as aggression based on information and communication technology. It’s forms can be very diverse:

  • Flaming or online fights, hostile and vulgar emails being sent
  • Hacking or impersonation by gaining access to someone’s account and sending messages that make the victim lose face and harm the victim’s reputation and friendships
  • Defamation by sending secrets or embarrassing information about someone
  • Slandering by sending cruel images or rumors about others to spoil their reputation
  • Exclusion of someone from an online group
  • Cyber harassment, sending threats to someone by email or other forms of messaging
  • Happy slapping, recording with cell phone cameras of the attack on someone

The prevalence among adolescents varies between studies between 10 to 36%. This is a wide variety mostly caused by the lack of clear definitions and a questionnaire inquiring about a variety of cyberbullying behavior. Recently a questionnaire for Cyberbullying was developed and researched. They studied 1431 adolescents in Spain between 12 and 17 years, high school students from 31 classrooms of 10 schools.

From this questionnaire 44,1% reported affirmatively to at least one form of cyberbullying. Girls were 40,3% and boys 47,8% of this group. This gender difference was significant. This questionnaire also showed that cyberbullying was significantly associated with the use of proactive aggression (aggression carried out to achieve some goal), justification of violence, exposure to violence, and less perceived social support of friends. Maybe social isolation or feeling socially isolated might be a risk factor for cyberbullying.

No control group was used, under or over reporting might influence the results.
Calvete, E., Orue, I., Estévez, A., Villardón, L., & Padilla, P. (2010). Cyberbullying in adolescents: Modalities and aggressors’ profile Computers in Human Behavior DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.017