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The Short-Term Longitudinal and Reciprocal Relations Between Peer Victimization on Facebook and Adolescents’ Well-Being

Abstract

Although studies have shown that depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, and adolescents’ online peer victimization are associated, there remain critical gaps in our understanding of these relationships. To address these gaps, the present two-wave panel study (N Time1 = 1840) (1) examines the short-term longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between peer victimization on Facebook, depressive symptoms and life satisfaction during adolescence, and (2) explores the moderating role of adolescents’ gender, age, and perceived friend support. Self-report data from 1621 adolescent Facebook users (48 % girls; M Age  = 14.76; SD = 1.41) were used to test our hypotheses. The majority of the sample (92 %) was born in Belgium. Cross-lagged analyses indicated that peer victimization on Facebook marginally predicted decreases in life satisfaction, and life satisfaction predicted decreases in peer victimization on Facebook. However, depressive symptoms were a risk factor for peer victimization on Facebook, rather than an outcome. In addition, support from friends protected adolescents from the harmful outcomes of peer victimization on Facebook. Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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Authors’ Contributions

EF, KS and SE conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination. EF participated in the data collection, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. KS and SE participated in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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This research was funded by a grant from the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO).

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Correspondence to Eline Frison.

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The study procedures were approved by the KU Leuven Social and Societal Ethics Committee, which is the Institutional Review Board of the host university.

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Informed consent was obtained in accordance with the customary guidelines in Belgium. All participants received an information letter, which described the research design. Participants who did not return the refusal form signed by their parents or legal guardian at the time of the researchers’ visit (i.e., passive informed consent), completed a paper-and-pencil survey.

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Frison, E., Subrahmanyam, K. & Eggermont, S. The Short-Term Longitudinal and Reciprocal Relations Between Peer Victimization on Facebook and Adolescents’ Well-Being. J Youth Adolescence 45, 1755–1771 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0436-z

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Life satisfaction
  • Peer victimization
  • Facebook