Mapping Developmental Precursors of Cyber-Aggression: Trajectories of Risk Predict Perpetration and Victimization
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- Modecki, K.L., Barber, B.L. & Vernon, L. J Youth Adolescence (2013) 42: 651. doi:10.1007/s10964-012-9887-z
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Technologically mediated contexts are social arenas in which adolescents can be both perpetrators and victims of aggression. Yet, there remains little understanding of the developmental etiology of cyber aggression, itself, as experienced by either perpetrators or victims. The current study examines 3-year latent within-person trajectories of known correlates of cyber-aggression: problem behavior, (low) self-esteem, and depressed mood, in a large and diverse sample of youth (N = 1,364; 54.6 % female; 12–14 years old at T1). Findings demonstrate that developmental increases in problem behavior across grades 8–10 predict both cyber-perpetration and victimization in grade 11. Developmental decreases in self-esteem also predicted both grade 11 perpetration and victimization. Finally, early depressed mood predicted both perpetration and victimization later on, regardless of developmental change in depressed mood in the interim. Our results reveal a clear link between risky developmental trajectories across the early high school years and later cyber-aggression and imply that mitigating trajectories of risk early on may lead to decreases in cyber-aggression at a later date.