Parenting Strategies and Adolescents’ Cyberbullying Behaviors: Evidence from a Preregistered Study of Parent–Child Dyads
Little is known about how parents may protect against cyberbullying, a growing problem-behavior among youth. Guided by self-determination theory, a theory concerned with effectively motivating and regulating behavior, six preregistered hypotheses concerning parenting strategies of regulating cyberbullying behavior were tested in 1004 parent–child dyads (45.9% female adolescents; adolescents were either 14 (49.5%) or 15 (50.5%) years old). The results largely supported hypotheses: Parents who used more autonomy-supportive strategies—understanding the adolescent’s perspective, offering choice, and giving rationales for prohibitions—had adolescents who reported engaging in less cyberbullying than parents who used controlling strategies (especially using guilt, shame, and conditional regard). Further, this was mediated by lower feelings of reactance to, or a desire to do the opposite of, parents’ requests. The discussion focuses on the limits of this study to investigate reciprocal effects of adolescent behavior shaping parenting strategies—a critical agenda for future research—as well as the potential benefits of interventions aimed at increasing parental autonomy support for reducing cyberbullying and other problem behaviors in adolescents.
KeywordsCyberbullying Bullying Parenting Autonomy support Reactance
N.L., N.W., and A.K.P. designed the project and the preregistration. N.L. drafted the manuscript and analyzed data. N.W. helped draft the manuscript. A.K.P. collected the data and gave feedback on the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This research was supported by a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, number SG171197.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All study procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all participants (both parents and adolescents) in the study.
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