Using a multi-methods research design, this study classified the contents of cyberbullying messages, measured their frequency and associations with offline bullying, and examined how social networks are associated with these behaviors.
The study involved a cohort of middle-school youth (n=164) attending two Iowa middle schools. The study found that although cyberbullying victimization was self-reported by only 5 percent of the youth, it was witnessed by about 14 out of 100 students per week, and aggressive language was found in about 21 of 1,000 smartphone messages. Victims of face-to-face bullying were much more likely to become victims of cyberbullying. Critical or demeaning language occurred in certain social networks, and the most common content of cyberbullying pertained to negative comments on victims' personality traits, physical appearance, sexual activity, and behaviors. The study conducted two surveys during the 2014-15 school year, one at the start of the spring semester and one at the end of spring 2015. The surveys solicited information on cyberbullying perpetration, victimization, the witnessing of online and offline bullying, and the structure of peer networks. A total of 77 students participated in an electronic capture period from January through May 2015. Participants' smartphones were equipped with an application that collected incoming and outgoing text messages and Facebook and Twitter activity. Participants were also surveyed weekly about their bullying experiences. The report notes that although its findings are limited to the study sample, the research methods and findings provide guidance for future larger studies. 6 tables, 2 figures, and 6 references
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: August 1, 2018