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Cyberbullying and Body Dissatisfaction in Swedish Children and Adolescents

Conference paper
Authors Ann Frisén
Sofia Berne
Published in International Conference on Cyberbullying: COST IS0801, 28-30 June, Sorbonne, Paris
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Cybervictimization, Body Dissatisfaction
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology


Background: Research indicates that several adverse consequences are associated with being a victim of cyberbullying such as: depressive symptoms, negative feelings, fear and a sense of helplessness (Perren, Dooley, and Shaw, 2010; Spears, Slee, Owens, & Johnson, 2009). The aim of this study was to understand more about another possible consequence of cyberbullying: body dissatisfaction. As far as we know, no other studies have examined whether cyberbullying is related to body dissatisfaction. However, previous research suggests that exposure to appearance-related teasing and conventional bullying is related to children’s body dissatisfaction (Lunde, Frisén & Hwang, 2006). Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate whether being a victim of cyberbullying is related to body dissatisfaction. Additionally, we examine the prevalence of cyberbullying directed at the victims’ appearance amongst Swedish pupils, aged 10, 12 and 15 years. Methods: In total, 1149 pupils, 10, 12 and 15 years old, were surveyed in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults (BESAA) was used to measure body dissatisfaction (Mendelson, Mendelson, & White, 2001). The questionnaire used to measure cyberbullying was based and developed from previous research on cyberbullying (Slonje & Smith, 2008). Results: Pupils aged 12 and 15 years old perceived that it is very frequent that cyberbullying is directed at the victims’ appearance. As many as 95% of the 15 year olds perceived that appearance is a common target especially when girls cyberbully girls. Results also showed that pupils often are victims of cyberbullying directed at appearance and that this increases with age (12% of 10 year old pupils, 13% of 12 year old pupils and 21% of 15 year old pupils). Finally, we found that those who were victims of cyberbullying, in all three age-groups, suffered from more body dissatisfaction. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate the need for further research that examines the relationship between cyberbullying and body dissatisfaction.

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