Advertisement

Cyberbullying Research in Belgium: An Overview of Generated Insights and a Critical Assessment of the Mediation of Technology in a Web 2.0 World

  • Wannes HeirmanEmail author
  • Michel Walrave
  • Heidi Vandebosch
  • Denis Wegge
  • Steven Eggermont
  • Sara Pabian
Chapter

Abstract

As one of the most recent forms of peer aggression, cyberbullying has emerged in our communities as a societal problem affecting the mental health of contemporary youth. As the prefix “cyber-” suggests, this type of bullying occurs through the use of an electronic medium. Following some widely covered cases in media (e.g. The Megan Meier story, the Amanda Todd case), scholarly attention devoted to this topic has significantly increased during the past decade (Tokunaga, Computers in Human Behavior 26(3), 277–287, 2010). Also in Belgium, scholars have put their efforts together to gain a better understanding of cyberbullying. In this context, the research group Media, ICT/Interpersonal relations in Organisations and Society (MIOS) has adopted the role of a Belgian pioneer in studying this form of negative online conduct among youngsters on the Internet and via mobile devices. The first aim of the chapter is to provide an overview of the outcomes of these research efforts. Both the prevalence rates, observed across five large-scale studies conducted by MIOS on cyberbullying, and the predictors of victimization and perpetration identified in these studies will be discussed.

As a second aim, we want to address the question whether cyberbullying has an amplified impact as compared with the harm caused by traditional bullying. This amplification of harm has been suggested both in media and in academic coverage on cyberbullying. In the context of these discourses, technology is said to operate as a facilitator of maladaptive behaviour among youth for various reasons. More specifically, five features of technology are commonly discussed as facilitating cyberbullying. These are technology’s potential to (1) safeguard perpetrators with anonymity, (2) to allow offenders to remain unnoticed for adult supervision, (3) to decrease perpetrators’ empathy caused by a lack of non-verbal cues in the online realm, (4) to provide them with a large (theoretically) infinite audience and finally, (5) to allow them to invade 24/7 in victims’ lives.

In response to the increasing demand for clarity, this study offers a conceptual framework in which all technology-related aspects are integrated and critically appreciated with respect to their potentially exacerbating role in cyberbullying. This critical assessment encompasses the following discussions: (1) how these features may aggravate the impact of cyberbullying, (2) whether some of these aspects can also have beneficial outcomes for young people’s well-being, (3) whether these aspects are exclusively applicable to the area of cyberbullying (or whether these aspects also feature non-electronic forms of bullying) and, moreover, (4) how the impact of some of these issues may have changed during the shift of the static World Wide Web into a more dynamic and interactive Web 2.0 environment.

Keywords

Cyberbullying Anonymity Cockpit effect 24/7 target Disinhibition Detection problems 

References

  1. Aalsma, M. C., & Brown, J. R. (2008). What is bullying? Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(2), 101–102. doi:10.1016/j.jaohealth.2008.06.001.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Aftab, P. (2014). How does cyberbullying work, in detail? http://www.aftab.com/index.php?page=how-does-cyberbullying-work.
  3. Agatston, P. W., Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Students’ perspectives on cyber bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), 59–60. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ang, R. P., & Goh, D. H. (2010). Cyberbullying among adolescents: The role of affective and cognitive empathy, and gender. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 41, 387–397. doi:10.1007/s10578-010-0176-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Aricak, T., Siyahhan, S., Uzunhasanoglu, A., Saribeyoglu, S., Ciplak, S., Yilmaz, N., & Memmedov, C. (2008). Cyberbullying among Turkish adolescents. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(3), 253–261. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.0016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bargh, J. A., McKenna, K. Y. A., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2002). Can you see the real me? Activation an expression of the “true self” on the internet. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 33–48. doi:10.1111/1540-4560.00247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bastiaensens, S., Vandebosch, H., Poels, K., Van Cleemput, K., DeSmet, A., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2014). Cyberbullying on social network sites. An experimental study into bystanders’ behavioural intentions to help the victim or reinforce the bully. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, 259–271. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bauman, S. (2010). Cyberbullying in a rural intermediate school: An exploratory study. Journal of Early Adolescence, 30, 803–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bauman, S., & Del Rio, A. (2006). Preservice teachers’ responses to bullying scenarios: Comparing physical, verbal, and relational bullying. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 219–231. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.98.1.219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bovill, M., & Livingstone, S. (2001). Bedroom culture and the privatization of media use (online). http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000672.
  11. Brighi, A., Guarini, A., Melotti, G., Galli, S., & Genta, M. L. (2012). Predictors of victimisation across direct bullying, indirect bullying and cyberbullying. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17, 375–388. doi:10.1080/13632752.2012.704684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bryce, J., & Fraser, J. (2013). “It’s common sense that it’s wrong”; Young people’s perceptions and experiences of cyberbullying. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 16(11), 783–787. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Calvert, S. L. (2002). Identity construction on the internet. In S. L. Calvert, A. B. Jordan, & R. R. Cocking (Eds.), Children in the digital age: Influences of electronic media on development. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  14. David-Ferdon, C., & Hertz, M. F. (2007). Electronic media, violence, and adolescents: An emerging public health problem. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), S1–S5. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.020.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Davies, C., & Eynon, R. (2013). Teenagers and technology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. De Laender, J. (1996). Het hart van de duisternis: psychologie van de menselijke wreedheid. Leuven: Davidsfonds.Google Scholar
  17. Diener, E. (1980). Deindividuation: The absence of self-awareness and self-regulation in group members. In B. P. Paulus (Ed.), The psychology of group influence (pp. 209–242). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Espelage, D. L., & Swearer, S. M. (2003). Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do we go from here? School Psychology Review, 32(3), 365–383.Google Scholar
  19. Fredstrom, B. K., Adams, R. E., & Gilman, R. (2011). Electronic and school-based victimization: Unique contexts for adjustment difficulties during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 405–415. doi:10.1007/110964-010-9569-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Friendly ATTAC. (2012). Zes jaar onderzoek naar cyberpesten in Vlaanderen, België en daarbuiten: een overzicht van de bevindingen (p. 17). Antwerp: Friendly Attac.Google Scholar
  21. Griffin, R. S., & Gross, A. M. (2004). Childhood bullying: Current empirical findings and future directions for research. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 9, 379–400. doi:10.1016/S1359-1789(03)00033-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heirman, W., & Walrave, M. (2008). Assessing concerns and issues about the mediation of technology in cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 2(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  23. Heirman, W., & Walrave, M. (2012). Predicting adolescent perpetration in cyberbullying: An application of the theory of planned behavior. Psicothema, 24(4), 614–620.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2007). Offline consequences of online victimization. Journal of School Violence, 6(3), 89–112. doi:10.1300/J202v06n03_06.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Juvonen, J., & Gross, E. G. (2008). Extending the school ground? Bullying experiences in cyberspace? Journal of School Health, 78(9), 496–505. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00335.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), 22–30. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S. P., & Agatston, P. W. (2012). Cyberbullying: Bullying in the digital age. Singapore: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. 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, 140(4), 1073–1137. doi:10.1037/a0035618.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lenhart, A., Ling, R., Campbell, S., & Purcell, K. (2010). Teens and mobile phones (p. 114). Washington, DC: Pew Internet.Google Scholar
  30. Li, Q. (2006). Cyberbullying in schools: A research of gender differences. School Psychology International, 27, 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li, Q. (2007). Bullying in the new playground. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(4), 435–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lorenz, K. (1974). Das sogenannte Bose. Zur Naturgeschichte der Aggression. Amsterdam: Ploegsma.Google Scholar
  33. Mason, K. L. (2008). Cyberbullying: A preliminary assessment for school personnel. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 323–348. doi:10.1002/pits.20301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mesch, G. S. (2009). Parental mediation, online activities, and cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12(4), 387–393. doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mishna, F., Saini, M., & Solomon, S. (2009). Ongoing and online: Children and youth’s perceptions of cyber bullying. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 1222–1228. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.05.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moore, M. J., Nakano, T., Enomoto, A., & Suda, T. (2012). Anonymity and roles associated with aggressive posts in an online forum. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 861–867. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2011.12.005Google Scholar
  37. Moores, S. (2000). Media and everyday life in modern society. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Olweus, D. (2012). Cyberbullying: An overrated phenomenon? European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 520–538. doi:10.1080/17405629.2012.682358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pabian, S., & Vandebosch, H. (2014). Using the theory of planned behavior to understand cyberbullying: The importance of beliefs for developing interventions. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11(4), 463–477. doi:10.1080/17405629.2013.858626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patchin, J., & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4(2), 148–169. doi:10.1177/1541204006286288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Perren, S., & Gutzwiller-Helfenfinger, E. (2012). Cyberbullying and traditional bullying in adolescence: Differential roles of moral disengagement, moral emotions, and moral values. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(12), 195–209. doi:10.1080/17405629.2011.643168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Raskauskas, J., & Stoltz, A. D. (2007). Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 43, 564–575. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.43.3.564.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Slonje, R., & Smith, P. K. (2007). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49(2), 147–154. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00611.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith, P. K., Cowen, H., Olafsson, R. F., & Liefooghe, A. P. D. (2002). Definitions of bullying: A comparison of terms used, and age and gender differences, in a fourteen-country international comparison. Child Development, 73(4), 1119–1133. doi:10.111/1467-8624.00461.Google Scholar
  45. Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376–385. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Stassen Berger, K. (2007). Update on bullying at school: A science forgotten? Developmental Review, 27, 90–126. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2006.08.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steffgen, G., König, A., Pfetsch, J., & Melzer, A. (2011). Are cyberbullies less empathic? Adolescents’ cyberbullying behavior and empathic responsiveness. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 643–648. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 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(5), 739–750. doi:10.1007/s10964-012-9867-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Strohmeier, D., Kärnä, A., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). Intrapersonal and interpersonal risk factors for peer victimization in immigrant youth in Finland. Developmental Psychology, 47, 248–258. doi:10.1037/a0020785.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology and Behaviour, 7(3), 321–326. doi:10.1089/1094931041291295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(3), 277–287. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.11.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vandebosch, H., & Van Cleemput, K. (2009). Cyberbullying among youngsters: Profiles of bullies and victims. New Media and Society, 11(8), 1349–1371. doi:10.11.Google Scholar
  53. Vishik, C., & Finocchiaro, G. (2010). Relative anonymity: Measuring degrees of anonymity in diverse computing environment. In N. Pohlmann, H. Reimer, & W. Schneider (Eds.), Securing electronic business processes (pp. 197–205). Wiesbaden: Vieweg. doi:10.1007/978-3-8348-9363-519.Google Scholar
  54. Walrave, M., & Heirman, W. (2011). Cyberbullying: Predicting victimization and perpetration. Children & Society, 25(1), 59–72. doi:10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009-00260.x.Google Scholar
  55. Wegge, D., Vandebosch, H., & Eggermont, S. (2014). Who bullies who online: A social network analysis of cyberbullying in a school context. Communications, 30(4), 415–433. doi:10.1515/commun-2014-0019.Google Scholar
  56. Willard, N. (2007). The authority and responsibility of school officials in responding to cyberbullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), s64–s65. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.013.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams, K. R., & Guerra, N. G. (2007). Prevalence and predictors of Internet bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), S14–S21. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.018.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. WIP. (2012). World internet project: International report. Los Angeles: World Internet Project.Google Scholar
  59. Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressor and targets: A comparison of youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(7), 1308–1316. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00328.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Ybarra, M. L., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2007). Examining the overlap in internet-harassment and school bullying: Implications for school intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), 42–50. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wannes Heirman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Walrave
    • 1
  • Heidi Vandebosch
    • 1
  • Denis Wegge
    • 1
  • Steven Eggermont
    • 2
  • Sara Pabian
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.School for Mass Communication ResearchUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations