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Adolescents´view on how different criteria define cyberbullying

Paper i proceeding
Författare Sofia Berne
Ann Frisén
Publicerad i Symposium on the 15 th European Conference on Developmental Psychology, 23-27 August 2011-Bergen_Norway
Publiceringsår 2011
Publicerad vid Psykologiska institutionen
Språk en
Ämnesord Cyberbullying, different criteria
Ämneskategorier Samhällsvetenskap, Psykologi


Aim. This study aims to explore how Swedish adolescents view different criteria from traditional bullying in relation to cyberbullying: intentionality, repetition, and imbalance of power. Additionally, it examines criteria that are specific to cyberbullying: public versus private, and anonymity. Methods. Forty-eight adolescents, age 12 and 15, participated in 8 focus groups, divided by gender and age. Results. The focus groups showed that adolescents consider the criteria of intentionality, repetition, and imbalance of power different in cyberbullying compared to traditional bullying. Furthermore, the respondents considered the criteria public versus private, and anonymity as unique to cyberbullying. We found that the criterion of imbalance of power differs in cyberbullying regarding the tendency to retaliate. The adolescents claimed some victims of cyberbullying dared retaliate on the Internet, in contrast to traditional bullying, where victims are unable to defend themselves. “If a person has been bullied she/he could retaliate on Internet” (twelve year old boy). On the subject of intentionality: the fact that you cannot observe the person behind the screen makes it difficult to understand the intention. Some adolescents however, were of the opinion that it is easy to understand when a comment/picture is a joke and when it is aggressive. This also relates to a characteristic unique of cyberbullying: anonymity; the respondents thought the impact worse if the victim is unsure of the cyberbully’s identity. The adolescents found repetition different in cyberbullying with regards to photo/video clip harassment; e.g. embarrassing photo/video clips could be uploaded to a webpage where each visit might be counted as part of the repetitive act. The criteria public versus personal became a recurring topic where participants experienced a bigger problem when many people accessed embarrassing material on the Internet than if the target was the only recipient. Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that, adolescents consider the criteria of intentionality, repetition and, imbalance of power different in cyberbullying compared to traditional bullying. The criteria public versus private and, anonymity were described as unique to cyberbullying.

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