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Cyberbullying on Online Gaming Platforms for Children and Youth


Cyberbullying has been recognized as a serious social concern. Considering the varied contexts of online engagement by children and youth is increasingly necessary to adequately understand their experiences and the impact of their participation. An online context which requires further attention is gaming platforms, which are especially popular among boys. Methods: Using a theoretical approach of social dominance, this paper analyzed secondary data drawn from a mixed methods study of cyberbullying to investigate the prevalence and experience of gaming among a quantitative survey sample (n = 670) of 4th, 7th, and 10th grade students, as well as the experience and impact of gaming on a qualitative interview sub-sample (n = 57). Gaming prevalence rates are provided. Boys were significantly more likely to engage in internet gaming (though the effect size was small); χ² (1, n = 669) = 10.11, p = 0.001, phi = −0.123, 95% CI (−0.207, −0.047). Qualitative content analysis (QCA) identified four themes: (1) aggression (exceeding what was required to achieve game objectives) characterized gaming culture and pervaded gaming platforms; (2) anonymity contributed to the culture of aggression; (3) participants often did not consider aggression cyberbullying, but rather just a part of the culture of gaming platforms; and (4) participants’ responses to aggressive behaviors. Certain behaviors on gaming platforms may not be appropriately recognized as cyberbullying. Implications for social work practice with children and youth are provided.

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This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant Number 410-2011-1001).

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Correspondence to Lauren B. McInroy.

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Lauren B. McInroy and Faye Mishna declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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McInroy, L.B., Mishna, F. Cyberbullying on Online Gaming Platforms for Children and Youth. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 34, 597–607 (2017).

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  • Social dominance
  • Online youth culture
  • Media and technology
  • Video games
  • Gender
  • Cyberbullying