Cyberbullying: predictors and prevalence in American and German middle school students

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to investigate several factors associated with cyberbullying and its victims; gender, age, and the time spent using various forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to investigate several factors associated with cyberbullying and its victims; gender, age, and the time spent using various forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Because cross-national studies are so important to understanding the similarities and differences found in this global problem, the current study explored the connection between traditional bullying and cyberbullying in middle school students in both the United States (N = 111) and Germany (N = 279). Participants ranged in age from 12 to 15 years and were administered self-report questionnaires during the regular school day. It was predicted that German students would have higher mean rates of CMC use; Americans would have higher mean rates of participation in and being victims of cyberbullying; there would be no mean differences in American and German student outcomes as either victims or perpetrators of traditional bullying. Results indicated that German students did use CMC more often than American students did, but Americans used certain forms of CMC more often, such as texting, IM and email. Contrary to expectations, Germans were more likely to participate in cyber and traditional bullying behavior. Americans did have a greater number of victims compared to perpetrators for both traditional and cyberbullying behavior. Additional results found that the American sample had a pattern of decreasing then increasing behavior as student age increased, across participation in all forms of bullying behavior, and participation rates often depended on the age of the students involved. Future research suggestions might focus on the importance of distinguishing the varying thought processes that define cyberbullying within a culture, specifically within our own culture. Additional research might also address how online communities and their inherent social norms and interactions, may inadvertently contribute to increasing cyberbullying and victimization of others outside of those groups and communities. Finally, due to the constant updating and improvement of social media, a follow- up study utilizing updated online applications would add considerably to the current knowledge base.