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Negative appearance related comments on the internet - A form of cyberbullying

Conference contribution
Authors Sofia Berne
Ann Frisén
Johanna Kling
Published in 16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology Lausanne, September 3-7, 2013
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Cyberbullying, Appearance-related cyberbullying
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Background. We found in a previous study that many pupils believed that cyberbullying often is directed at the victim’s appearance, especially when girls are cybervictims (Frisén, Berne, & Lunde, in press). Aim. The aim of this study was to investigate what kind of negative appearance related comments pupils receive on the internet and in what forums. Method. Fifty-one pupils, age 10 and 15, participated in 8 focus groups, divided by gender and age. Results. The results showed that many of the pupils often received negative appearance related comments. The most common forums for negative appearance related comments where different social networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Chats and Blogs. Girls reported that they were more likely than boys to receive negative appearance related comments. However, many boys were also targeted. Concerning what kind of negative appearance related comments the pupils received on the internet, several of the pupils reported that they received negative comments about their weight and especially obesity. This can be illustrated by one of the ten year old girl’s examples of comments you might get on the internet: “skinny, you should eat more, we don´t want to see you”, or “hi fatso, lose weight”. Another recurring theme mentioned by the pupils was that the negative comments concerned their clothes and make up. It was also common that facial features (e.g., nose and teeth) on uploaded photos were commented in various maliciously ways. Conclusion. This study showed that many of the pupils received negative appearance related comments about their appearance and body, especially about their weight, clothes and make up. The most common places for these comments where different social networking sites. Reference Frisén, A., Berne, S., & Lunde, C. (in press). Cybervictimization and body esteem: Experiences of Swedish children and adolescents. European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

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