, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 281-295
Date: 29 Nov 2011

Children’s Cyberbullying Victimization: Associations with Social Anxiety and Social Competence in a Spanish Sample

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Cyberbullying research has increased in recent years given the consequences of victims’ personal and social domains. However, very few studies have analyzed the antecedents that make individuals more vulnerable to cyberbullying victimization. This research, based on previous studies on school bullying, aimed to examine social anxiety, interpersonal difficulties and lack of social skills as predictors of victimization in cyberspace and to extend the research done to date by assessing the antecedents of these negative online interactions. Public primary school students aged 10–12 years old (n = 1127) completed a self-report questionnaire which measures being cyberbullied, social anxiety and social competence. Logistic regression analyses examined the associations between cyberbullying victimization and social anxiety, and two measures of social competence: social skills and interpersonal difficulties. The results reveal that specific symptoms of social anxiety (fear of negative evaluation), interpersonal difficulties to communicate with peers and close friends, and lack of appropriate social skills, all increased the likelihood of cyberbullying victimization. They suggest that increasing worry about others’ evaluation makes children vulnerable to cyberbullying and, likewise, children with poor social skills and difficulties to act in front of a large group of people or to interact with friends are at risk of being victimized in cyberspace. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.