06 SES 05 A, Self and Other and the Internet
Cyberbullying has become a common issue across the globe. Relevant research concerning cyberbullying has examined various relevant issues and topics, including possible correlates for cyberbullying behavior and psychological impact of cyberbullying, etc. Among the studies on cyberbullying, a focal question is about the relationship between gender and cyberbullying (e.g., Wang, Iannotti, & Luk, 2012).
It should be noted that extant research on cyberbullying mostly focused on demographic factors such as gender, age, and prevalence of bullying. Indeed, gender difference has been widely examined in both cyberbullying and traditional bullying research. In traditional bullying, gender patterns have been evident over time: boys were more likely to get involved in bullying than girls in general, and in direct physical bullying in particular.
Compared to research on traditional bullying, however, cyberbullying research has shown inconsistent findings regarding gender differences. A large amount of research has shown that males are more likely than females to be engaged in cyberbullying. For example, studies from the United Kingdom (Smith et al., 2008), the United States (Wang, Iannotti, & Luk, 2012), and Canada (Li, 2007) reported boys being overrepresented as cyberbullies. Barlett and Gentile (2012), with a large sample of college students in the U.S., identified a positive correlation between CB frequency and gender, with males showing higher frequency of being engaged in CB.
However, other studies did not report any gender differences in cyberbullying (Smith et al., 2008). As Griezel et al. (2008) pointed out, the cyberbullying literature was plagued by inconsistent findings on gender differences. To tackle this issue, it is important, among other things, to design and use psychometrically sound instruments to assess the cyberbullying behavior. For instance, Abeele and Cock (2013) surveyed 264 high-school students in Belgium, and found that males were more likely to be involved in direct bullying, rather than using such means as voice call or picture/video, whereas females were more likely to gossip via voice call or SMS. The findings suggested that the forms or patterns of cyberbullying would make a difference in the likelihood that one would be engaged in cyberbullying behavior. By surveying a large sample of public school students in Sweden, Beckman, Hagquist and Hellström (2012) reported no statistically significant gender differences in the involvement in cyberbullying behaviors.
Although cyberbullying is increasingly being recognized as a societal issue, there are many unanswered questions concerning gender differences in cyberbullying behaviors. More solid research findings about any gender differences, or lack thereof, in cyberbullying would allow researchers and practitioners to assess the different types and levels of cyberbullying involvement by male and female students. Better knowledge in this regard will help researchers and practitioners in designing and planning more effective preventive work and intervention, thus enhancing students’ mental and emotional health, as well as helping them to become better citizens in the long term.
Gender differences in cyberbullying behaviors could potentially be related to cultures, because cultural norms and expectations may influence the behaviors of gender groups. Because of this consideration, we were interested in capturing such potential influence when possible. For this purpose, we used the region of the study sample as a rough proxy for different cultures. More specifically, we had three levels for this study feature variable: North America, Europe/Australia, and Asia.
In this study we focus on the following main research questions:
1. Is there a gender group difference in cyberbullying behaviors as reported in the previous empirical studies?
2. What are the study features (e.g., study region or culture) that could have partially explained the inconsistencies in the findings concerning the gender group differences in cyberbullying behaviors across individual studies in the literature?
Abeele, M. V., & Cock, R. (2013). Cyberbullying by mobile phone among adolescents: The role of gender and peer group status. Communications, 38, 107-118. Barlett, C. P., & Gentile, D. A. (2012). Attacking others online: The formation of cyberbullying in late adolescence. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1, 123-135. Barlett, C. P., Gentile, D. A., Anderson, C. A., Suzuki, K., Sakamoto, A., Yamaoka, A., & Katsura, R. (2014). Cross-cultural differences in cyberbullying behavior: A short-term longitudinal study. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 300-313. Beckman, L., Hagquist, C., & Hellström, L. (2012). Does the association with psychosomatic health problems differ between cyberbullying and traditional bullying? Educational & Behavioral Difficulties, 17, 421-434. Bergeron, N., & Schneider, B. H. (2005). Examining cross-national differences in peer-related aggression: A quantitative synthesis. Aggressive Behavior, 31, 116–137. Fan, X., & Chen, M. (2001). Parental involvement and students’ academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 1-22. Griezel, L., Craven, R. G., Yeung, A. S., & Finger, L. R. (2008, December). The development of a multi-dimensional measure of cyberbullying. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education, Brisbane. Olweus, D. (2012). Comments on cyberbullying articles: A rejoinder. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 559-568. 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 & Psychiatry, 49, 376-385. 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.
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