Cyberbullying on Online Gaming Platforms for Children and Youth

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., Rothstein, H. R., & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151–173.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Ballard, M. E., & Welch, K. M. (2015). Virtual warfare: Cyberbullying and cyber-victimization in MMOG Play. Games and Culture. doi:10.1177/1555412015592473.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Barlett, C. P. (2015). Anonymously hurting others online: The effect of anonymity on cyberbullying frequency. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 4(2), 70–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Beavis, C. (2015). Young people, online gaming culture, and education. In J. Wyn & H. Cahill (Eds.), Handbook of children and youth studies (pp. 815–827). Singapore: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Boyle, E. A., Hainey, T., Connolly, T. M., Gray, G., Earp, J., Ott, M., … Pereira, J. (2016). An update to the systematic literature review of empirical evidence of the impacts and outcomes of computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 94, 178–192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brooks, F. M., Chester, K. L., Smeeton, N. C., & Spencer, N. H. (2016). Video gaming in adolescence: Factors associated with leisure time use. Journal of Youth Studies, 19, 36–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Byrne, H., Dooley, B., Fitzgerald, A., & Dolphin, L. (2016). Adolescents’ definitions of bullying: The contribution of age, gender, and experience of bullying. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 31, 403–418.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chang, F., Chiu, C., Miao, N., Chen, P., Lee, C., Huang, T., Pan, Y. (2015). Online gaming and risks predict cyberbullying perpetration and victimization in adolescents. International Journal of Public Health, 60, 257–266.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd edn.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Collier, K. L., Bos, H. M. W., & Sandfort, T. G. M. (2013). Homophobic name-calling among secondary school students and its implications for mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 363–375.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Common Sense. (2015). The common sense census: Media use by tweens and teens. Common Sense Media Inc. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens.

  13. Craig, S. L., McInroy, L., McCready, L. T., & Alaggia, R. (2015). Media: A catalyst for resilience in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth. Journal of LGBT Youth, 12, 254–275.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crawford, G., Gosling, V. K., & Light, B. (2011). The social and cultural significance of online gaming. In G. Crawford, V. K. Gosling & B. Light (Eds.), Online gaming in context: The social and cultural significance of online games (pp. 3–22). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Ellis, S. M., & Steyn, H. S. (2003). Practical significance (effect sizes) versus or in combination with statistical significance (p-values): Research note. Management Dynamics: Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists, 12(4), 51–53.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Elo, S., & Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62, 107–115.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Evans, S. B., & Janish, E. (2015). #INeedDiverseGames: How the queer backlash to GamerGate enables nonbinary coalition. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2(2), 125–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ferguson, C. J. (2007). The good, the bad and the ugly: A meta-analytic review of positive and negative effects of violent video games. Psychiatric Quarterly, 78, 309–316.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Forman, J., & Damschroder, L. (2015). Qualitative content analysis. Empirical methods for bioethics: A primer (pp. 39–62). Published online.

  20. Fryling, M., Cotler, J., Rivituso, J., Mathews, L., & Pratico, S. (2015). Cyberbullying or normal game play? Impact of age, gender, and experience on cyberbullying in multi-player online gaming environments: Perceptions from one gaming forum. Journal of Information Systems Applied Research, 8(1), 4–15.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69, 66–78.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Griffiths, M. D., Hussain, Z., Grüsser, S. M., Thalemann, R., Cole, H., Davies, M. N. O., & Chappell, D. (2011). Social interactions in online gaming. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 1(4), 20–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hanish, L. D., & Guerra, N. G. (2000). Children who get victimized at school: What is known? What can be done? Professional School Counseling, 4, 113–119.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Johnson, G. M., & Puplampu, K. P. (2008). Internet use during childhood and the ecological techno-subsystem. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology. doi:10.21432/T2CP4T.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin, 40, 1073–1137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Krippendorff, K. (2013). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Lenhart, A., Duggan, M., Perrin, A., Stepler, R., Rainie, L., & Parker, K. (2015a). Teen, social media and technology overview 2015. PEW Research Center. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/04/PI_TeensandTech_Update2015_0409151.pdf.

  28. Lenhart, A., Smith, A., Anderson, M., Duggan, M., & Perrin, A., (2015b). Teens, technology and friendships. Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/08/Teens-and-Friendships-FINAL2.pdf.

  29. McCarthy, C. (2013). Pediatricians and television: It’s time to rethink our messaging and our efforts. Pediatrics, 131(3), 589–590.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Merriam-Webster. (2016a). Newbie. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newbie.

  31. Merriam-Webster. (2016b). Trash talk. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trash%20talk.

  32. Mishna, F., Cook, C., Gadalla, T., Daciuk, J., & Solomon, S. (2010). Cyber bullying behaviors among middle and high school students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80, 362–374.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Mishna, F., Khoury-Kassabri, M., Gadalla, T., & Daciuk, J. (2012). Risk factors for involvement in cyber bullying: Victims, bullies and bully-victims. Children and Youth Service Review, 34, 63–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Mishna, F., McInroy, L. B., Lacombe-Duncan, A., Bhole, P., Van Wert, M., Schwan, K., … Pepler, D. J., et al. (2016). Prevalence, motivations, and social, mental health and health consequences of cyberbullying among school-aged children and youth: Protocol of a longitudinal and multi-perspective mixed method study. JMIR Research Protocols, 5(2), e83. doi:10.2196/resprot.5292.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. Modecki, K. L., Minchin, J., Harbaugh, A. G., Guerra, N. G., & Runions, K. C. (2014). Bullying prevalence across contexts: A meta-analysis measuring cyber and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55, 602–611.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Morales, J. F., Yubero, S., & Larrañaga, E. (2016). Gender and bullying: Application of a three-factor model of gender stereotyping. Sex Roles, 74, 169–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Olweus, D. (1991). Bully/victim problems among school children: Basic facts and effects of a school based intervention program. In D. Pepler & K. Rubin (Eds.), The development and treatment of childhood aggression (pp. 411–448). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Oxford Dictionaries. (2016a). Noob. Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/noob#noob__2.

  39. Oxford Dictionaries. (2016b). Pwn. Oxford University Press. Retrieved March 5, 2016, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/pwn.

  40. Pascoe, C. J. (2013). Notes on a sociology of bullying: Young men’s homophobia as gender socialization. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 0(1), 87–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Pew Research Center. (2013). Social Networking Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/.

  42. Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Schreier, M. (2014). Qualitative content analysis. In U. Flick (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis (pp. 170–183). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Sidanius, J., & Pratto, F. (2012). Social dominance theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 418–438). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Sticca, F., & Perren, S. (2013). Is cyberbullying worse than traditional bullying? Examining the differential roles of medium, publicity, and anonymity for the perceived severity of bullying. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 739–750.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Toronto District School Board (n.d. 1) About us. Retrieved May 16, 2016, from http://www.tdsb.on.ca/AboutUs.aspx.

  47. Toronto District School Board (n.d. 2) Quick facts. Retrieved May 16, 2016, from http://www.tdsb.on.ca/AboutUs/QuickFacts.aspx.

  48. Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Luk, J. W. (2012). Patterns of adolescent bullying behaviors: Physical, verbal, exclusion, rumor, and cyber. Journal of School Psychology, 50, 521–534.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  49. Young, K. (2009). Understanding online gaming addiction and treatment issues for adolescents. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 37, 355–372.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

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

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lauren B. McInroy.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

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

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

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

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

McInroy, L.B., Mishna, F. Cyberbullying on Online Gaming Platforms for Children and Youth. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 34, 597–607 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-017-0498-0

Download citation

Keywords

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