The cyberbullying phenomenon
Young people attacked electronically
The term cyberbullying refers to the use of digital media – Internet applications and also SMS, mailbox messages, and cell phone calls – with the intention of harming others. Since the rise of online venues such as social networking portals (Facebook, Twitter, StudiVZ, SchülerVZ, etc.), cyberbullying has been an unpleasant accompanying phenomenon of these popular platforms. In Europe, already approximately 10% of young people between the ages of 9 and 16 have been confronted with cyberbullying. In comparison: In Germany, 4% of children have had experience of cyberbullying, and 9% of parents suspect that their children have been victims of cyberbullying (see EU Kids Online II, 2010). Today, anyone – whether they use the Internet or not – can become the victim of cyberbullying attacks. However, cyberbullying seems to be a phenomenon that is most frequently found among adolescents. Parents, teachers and other socialization agents who did not grow up with the new media are unsure about how to deal with the new possibilities on the Internet and are often overwhelmed. But they are concerned about the risks for young people in digital space, including cyberbullying.
This study is seeking answers to the following research questions:
- On the issue of cyberbullying, what experiences, attitudes and fears do young people, parents and teachers have?
- What preventive measures against cyberbullying are young people, parents and teachers already familiar with?
- Have young people, parents or teachers already undertaken measures to prevent cyberbullying attacks?
This study investigates cyberbullying, a form of mobbing via electronic media, by examining attitudes, fears, and knowledge about cyberbullying from three perspectives: Young people, parents and teachers have their say in this qualitative stocktaking study of cyberbullying today.
The behaviour in which an individual engages online has a lot to do with social competency but also with media literacy. Critical analysis and judgment of online contents as well as pragmatic and profitable, creative use of the Internet belong to the competencies that young people need to learn early in the mediatized world of today. Here, socialization agents in the form of parents, teachers and also peer group members play a significant role. This study aims to generate new knowledge in the area of violence prevention and promotion of media literacy.
Dr. Eve Hipeli Müller
Stiftung Suzanne und Hans Biäsch