Research into Cyber Bullying

Not sure if any of you saw the BBC program about Cyber Bullying last week, but it was really shocking as I was unaware of how dangerous bullying online really is!! This program inspired me to research into cyber bullying to find out how common it is and if enough research has been carried out in order to help prevent it.

So what is cyber bullying? Cyber bullying is when (mainly children/teens) use technology in order to purposely harm and offend someone else. *Online research was carried out on middle –school students to find out what the most popular methods of cyber bullying are, these include: ‘hacking’ into the victims social networking site and using their profile to spread rumours, upload nasty images and reading & posting their private conversations. Cyber bullies also edit and upload photos in order to humiliate the victim. Another method is to create spiteful online polls about the victim.

In 2008, The National Crime Prevention Centre revealed that over 40% of teenagers who use the internet have experienced cyber bullying, and that girls are more likely to be targeted rather than boys. However, you could suggest that this may be due to the fact that boys are more embarrassed to admit that they have experienced bullying. The National Crime Prevention Center also found that only 15% of parents are aware of the social networking sites that their children are using, and that only 10% of the bully victims told their parents about the online bullying!! If parents were more aware of these sites then hopefully this statistics would increase and the amount of bullying would decrease! The U.C.L.A surveyed 1,454 teens between the ages of 12 and 17** in order to find out why they were not informing their parents about the cyber bullying. They found that half of the victims felt as though they should just accept they were being bullied and that they “need to learn to deal with it.” Almost 1/3 of the cyber victims were afraid that if their parents were aware of the bullying they would be banned from using the internet.  Others felt that they may have gotten into trouble with their parents for using the social networking sites in the first place (as there are age restrictions for the sites).

Interestingly, when asked, 53% of 9-13 year olds* admitted to saying mean and hurtful things to others online. This is quite shocking to think that over half of the children asked have admitted to cyber bullying, it could be considered that this figure should actually be more but children may not want to admit to participating in the act. Lohmann (2010)*** suggests that teenagers may be cyber bullying because it is an easy form of bullying. As there is no face-to-face interaction the bully can easily throw out insults online rather than in person (hope this is bringing back lovely memories of deindividuation and what not from our Social lectures!). However, it could also be suggested that bullying occurs more when not face-to-face because the bully cannot actually see how much harm they are creating to the victim online, so it could even be unintentional! Lohmann also believes cyber bullying may occur because teenagers irrationally act and spread rumours through the use of multiple texts. In ‘real life’ it would take longer for a rumour to spread as the bully would have to go to each person individually in order to pass the rumour on, and by that time they may have actually gathered their thoughts and stopped the rumour. But with a text, once the message is sent, the damage is already done.

Lohmann has also given teenagers advice on how to prevent cyber bullying! To name a few: do not give out your username and password to social networking sites, do not respond to texts/online messages when you are feeling angry and TELL AN ADULT!! (if you want to read them all please look at the link with *** next to it in the references). Not only does Lohmann advise children on how to prevent bullying, she also offers advice to teachers and parents on how to help the situation.

In conclusion, bullying unfortunately happens amongst children and the statistics show that it must be difficult for teens now that the bullying can even continue outside the classroom due to technology. However, due to research investigating into the issue, researchers have found out why the bullying is happening and have managed to create a list of ways to help preventing it!

This is my final blog of the year so I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading 😀 hehe xx






Comments for Wendy (due 14th March) 

Research into Game Addiction

After noticing that last weekend Alchemy (a game for smart phones) had seemed to have taken over my flatmates’ lives and then finding that this week my fingers have been permanently glued to my iPhone playing Fruit Ninja all weekend, I felt that it was appropriate to investigate research into gaming. Why do we get so hooked on these games that can’t we put our phones down and if there is really such thing as a “gaming addiction”.

As research into the gaming culture is only relatively new (starting from around the 1990s), gaming addiction has not been recognised as a mental health condition and therefore has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). However, researchers are still investigating into the world of gaming by linking them to recognisable related disorders, such as gambling.  Griffiths and Hunt (1998) conducted a questionnaire study with 387 teenagers, in order to find out if people are dependent on games. They used a scale adapted from the DSM-III-R criteria for pathological gambling and found that 1 in 5 of the teens were dependant on computer games (boys more so than girls)! The earlier children began playing computer games it appeared the more likely they were to be playing at “dependent” levels. However, the ecological validity of the study could be questioned, as the participants were only teens they have less responsibilty than adults so them being dependent on games isnt so much effecting their lives. It would be interesting to see the results if the study was conducted on adults.

It is suggested that player’s psycho-social dependence may occur due to the reinforcement that the game offers, as Griffiths claims that“all addictions (whether chemical or behavioural) are essentially about constant rewards and reinforcement”. It could be suggested that people’s social dependency on computer games may be due to video games that allow players to interact with others and create online relationships…  this can lead to shocking and extreme cases of some gamers finding these relationships more important than their real life relationships. *

Griffiths (2009) puts forward the idea that not all gamers who play excessively have an addiction or are dependent on the game. Data was collected from two case studies in order to distinguish excessive gaming from addictive gaming. Both participants played games for up to 14 hours a day, however, their reasons for playing games so excessively were different. They were very different in terms of psychological motivation and the meaning and experience of gaming within their lives. One of the gamers was considered to be an addict as he felt as though the game was an important part of his life which lead to the game having negative impact on other areas of his life. Whereas the other gamer just played for enjoyment and the game didn’t affect other aspects of his life. Griffiths also concluded that an activity cannot be described as an addiction if there are few (or no) negative consequences in the player’s life even if the gamer is playing 14 hours a day. This study would be more valid if there were more participants, as we do not know if these two individuals can be generalised for every gamer. It could be that most people who play games exessively are finding that it has a negative impact on other areas of their life.

In conclusion, gaming is now known as one of the most popular past-times so this could be a reason why so many people are spending excessive lengths of time on games! As we have games at our fingertips, and its usually raining outside, who wouldn’t want to sit indoors shooting their TV or chopping up virtual fruit from the comfort of their sofa (or bed)?!  Furthermore, even though a lot of adolescents may spend a lot of time on games, if they don’t put it before their health and real-life relationships… everything should be ok.  I do think it’s a concern for gamers who show addictive behaviours towards games, however APA suggested (2007) that there is not enough evidence or research to conclude that video game addiction is a ‘real’ disorder and therefore it will  not be accepted into the latest DSM this year.

During this blog I received a text off my boyfriend saying he’d beaten my Fruit Ninja high score, so now I know that I’m not mentally unwell, I am going to say goodbye and continue my night on Fruit Ninja. BYE!

Oh one last thing, if anyone is interested in further reading (or an Anrgy Birds addict) then check this website out… actual explanations of WHY you are addicted to the game… clever, clever, game makers