J.c. van leeuwen 2012 - literature review on cyberbullying definitions
LITERATURE REVEW ON THERESEARCH ON CYBERBULLYINGDEFINITIONSThe differences between the definitions aboutcyberbullying created by scholars?
Literature revew on the research on cyberbullying definitions The differences between the definitions about cyberbullying created by scholarsAbstractThis literature review investigates and provides an overview on how scholars define thephenomenon called cyberbullying in behavior sciences. It analyses the definitions, showswhat the important missing variables are and discusses what must be done in order to create auniversal definition for cyberbullying. The characteristics discussed in this review couldprove to be useful in creating a general definition for cyberbulling. This literature review alsoexplains why there is a need for a general definition.1. Introduction researched on often describe cyberbullyingSchool violence, often referred to as as a type of bullying that involvesbullying or traditional bullying, is a individuals using information and / orserious problem that a large part of the communication technology to makewestern countries are dealing with. This someone else’s life miserable, or at least,act, bullying, arises and is mostly present bully a other individual via these kind ofduring primary and secondary education technology. An example definition is the(Li, 2005). One can also call traditional definition used by Smith et al. (2008,bullying ‘peer victimization’. Sumter, p.376) “An aggressive, intentional actBaumgartner, Valkenburg and Peter carried out by a group or individual, using(2012) refer to traditional bullying as peer electronic forms of contact, repeatedly andvictimization. They define it as “Peer over time against a victim who can notvictimization refers to exposure to easily defend him or herself”. However,aggressive acts by same-age peers. These the literature about cyberbullying is, evenaggressive acts include harming victims up to the year 2012, rather scarce. It alsophysically or psychologically or harming lacks conceptual clarity, as Vandebosh andtheir social status” (p.1). However, Van Cleemput (2008) suggest. Thebullying nowadays, has changed its form, problem with having multiple definitionsat least to the extent that there is a and multiple perspectives is that eachdifferent type with its own definitions. research that uses a different definitionNew technology allows us to be connected obviously focusses on different aspects.with our friends and family twenty four Research done by various scholars canhours a day, seven days a week. This therefore not be compared with onecreates a completely new dimension for another, nor can the results be added toindividuals to bully others. Scholars often other researches. The results are toorefer to this new type of bullying as inconsistent (Tokunga, 2010). Law,cyberbullying (Li, 2005; Besley, 2009; Shapka, Hymel, Olson & WaterhouseSmith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, Fisher, Russel (2011, p.226) suggested similarities “The& Tippett, 2008). lack of a clear definition prevents a full understanding of this construct and how itResearch on cyberbullying has focussed relates to developmental outcomes”.on different fields, with each scholar often Therefore this literature review will extendusing his or her own definition, or using a our understanding of cyberbullying bydefinition created by one of the many looking into the various definitions createdother scholars investigating this matter. by scholars and discusses the missingThe definitions that have often been used elements, which in turn will create a basisto investigate that what the researchers for further research. Research that
focusses on creating a general definition ofcyberbullying. In addition to this, the Smith et al. (2008) conducted two surveys,following research question was additionally followed by a focus group.developed: The main focus of the study was on clarifying the nature and impact ofTo what extent are there any differences cyberbullying in secondary school. Bothbetween the definitions about studies conducted found thatcyberbullying created by scholars? cyberbullying happens less often than traditional bullying, however it occurred2. Method more often outside the school, thanFor this literature review, an analysis of 10 actually inside school. They also founddifferent research articles will be analyzed that cyber-victims were traditional ‘bully-in order to answer the research questions. victims’. This data (act and consequencesAt first a short summary and justification of cyberbullying), and therefor the view ofof why these articles were added, then the the authors, is interesting in finding theliterature review will discuss the conditions to creating a definition towardsdefinitions of cyberbullying. At the final cyberbullying.stage, the literature review will concludeon whether the research question is Vandebosh and Van Cleemput (2009)answered, or whether further investigation analyze and sketch a profile ofis needed. cyberbullies and victims. The scholars first described the problem of definition,3. Summaries whereas they added information about theCyberbullying is a rather new current way of measurement as well. Thephenomenon, and is investigated by main focus of the article, however, is onseveral, relatively important and well the description of results related to theknown authors in the field of bullying. Ten profiles of cyberbullies and its victims.authors and their articles have been used Therefore, the data provided in this articlefor this analysis. could add important information to this review.Tokunga (2010) synthesized differentfindings from reports based on quantitative Kowalski and Limber (2007) conductedfindings. In addition, the scholar added an survey among 3,767 students in the gradesexplanation to why research towards a 6, 7, and 8, to investigate the prevalence ofgeneral definition of cyberbullying is cyberbullying (they call it electronicimportant. As a result the scholar provided bullying) among these students. Due to thean integrative definition for cyberbullying. fact that the scholars used a differentTherefore the information from this study definition, the results of the questionnairecould prove useful for this literature are therefore interesting for this review.review. Juvonen and Gross (2008) wrote theMoore, Nakano, Enomoto & Tatsuya article with the goal to investigate the(2012) analyzed the roles in cyberbullying overlap between targets of online and in-related to online forum postings. The school bullying among 12- to 17-year-oldscholar identified several characteristics, individuals. They also tested somesuch as a cyberbully is anonymous. All common assumptions that were previouslythese characteristics prove to be of high created regarding cyberbulling. Thevalue when relating to other definitions scholars’ vision (and definition oftowards cyberbulling. A other aspect of cyberbullying) is therefore interesting forwhy this article is of interest for this this review.literature review is the fact that the authormainly focussed on forum postings. Erdur-Baker (2010) examined theOverlap with other forms of cyberbullying relationship between cyberbullying andmay therefore be identified. traditional bullying related to experiences,
conditioned by gender differences. definition, is valuable to this literatureContradicting to other findings from, for review, since her view is slightly differentexample Li (2007), Erdrur-Baker found compared to other scholars.that male students were more bullied inboth ways. Therefor, especially when 4. Evaluationcomparing the results to other authors, The question What is cyberbullying? oftenthese findings were interesting, especially leads to scholars describing andtowards the fact to how this scholar then summarizing multiple media channels andidentifies and defines cyberbullying. interpersonal experiences. These aspects can often be related to examples ofThe study written by Li (2007), describes cyberbullying, or at least, ways in which itan examination of the way adolescents occurs. Additionally, cyberbullying can,experience cyberbullying. It explores to just like traditional bullying, occur directhow the factors, including bullying, gender and indirect. Vandebosh and Vanand culture add to individuals Cleemput (2009) describe each category ascyberbulling. The results describe that one follows “The first category refers to thosein three individuals was a victim, while types of cyberbullying in which the victimone in five was actually a cyberbully. is directly involved; the second type maySince these rather high percentages are take place without the (immediate) noticepresent in his study, the question how Li of the victim” (p. 1352). As one can(2007) defines cyberbullying is therefore conclude from this statement, the acts oninteresting for this literature review, and how individuals cyberbully can differ. Onecould add important data towards the example is an individual sending a virus orgeneral vision of cyberbullying. creating a Facebook group about someone, but excluding that individual from theIn a study by Slonje and Smith (2008) it group. Another example is the story of thebecame clear that the impact of Dutch phenomenon called ‘bangalijsten’.cyberbullying was seen as highly negative A ‘bangalijst’ is a list created by a studentfor bullying related to picture/video. One that shows the top-10 girls who are theimportant finding was that the victims most slutty at their school. It includessometimes tell their friends, but most often examples of ‘she will do it for a lipgloss’keep their problems to themselves, and or ‘whether the girl will send nude picturestherefore parents do often not know about of herself’. These lists are created andthe individuals being cyberbullied. The distributed via e-mail and social mediafact that the scholars used four categories (Jonker, 2012).of cyberbullying to examine it in relationto gender and age, questioned the As mentioned in the previous paragraph,definition to how they defined researchers have not yet reachedcyberbullying. Therefore their view and consensus about the definition relating todefinition was of value to this literature cyberbullying. As one can see in table 1,review. each researcher uses a different definition, and therefore a different approach on howThe article written by Willard (2007) gives to define cyberbullying. The problem with,more information towards cyberbullying as mentioned in the introduction already,(social aggression as she calls it) that having multiple definitions, is that eachinvolves speech. It clarifies and informs scholar studies different phenomena whileabout the authority and responsibility the investigating under the same title.school officials have related to responding Tokunga (2010) also emphasizes thatto cyberbulling. Since Willard links without a single definition, cross-cyberbullying to speech, and also calls it comparison with other research issocial aggression, the findings of this impossible.report, at least to the extent of the
Table 1Overview of definitions used by researchersStudy DefinitionTokunga (2010) Cyberbullying is any behavior performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on othersMoore et al. (2012) Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying which can occur through email messages, forum posting, web site publishing, cell phone text messages, chat rooms, computer hacking, and any other means of electronic communication.Juvonen & Gross (2009) Cyberbullying is portrayed as a pervasive intimidation method that can happen to any youth using electronic communication tools such as instant messaging (IM) or e-mail.Besley (2012) Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm othersSmith et al (2008) An aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend himself’Kowalski et al. (2008) Electronic bullying includes bullying through e-mail, instant messaging, in a chat room, on a website, or through digital messages or images sent to a cell phone.Erdur-Baker (2010) Aggression using ICT is referred to as cyberbullying (also called electronic bullying or inline bullying) when it is identified as intentional and repeated aggression. More specifically, cyberbullying is defined as hurtful and intended communication activity using any form of technological device such as the internet or mobile phonesLi (2007) Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm othersSlonje & Smith (2008) Cyberbullying [cybermobbn-ing] as bullying through text messaging, email, mobile phone calls or picture/video clip.Willard (2007) Being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the internet or other digital technologies.One should note that, as the definitions However, one should be aware thatprovided by the researchers mentioned cyberbullying may also be defined in aabove, the actual definition of completely different way. As mentioned incyberbullying can even be very different the previous paragraph, the definitionscompared to the definitions that are being provided by those researchers onlyused at the moment. Research that has describe the act itself, not thebeen done until now, often defines psychological consequences. Also, onecyberbullying in one way: the way in how should note that a new question can becyberbullying occurs, and not how it is asked, meaning that one could ask himselfperceived or experienced, nor does the when cyberbullying is actuallydefinition go deeper into any cyberbullying. For example, cyberbullyingpsychological effects. A good example of can even be cyberbullying when thea definition that is often used by message or act was not even intended byresearchers, is the definition provided by the sender to be meant as bullying. TheBesley (2012). One could say that those receiver may interpret a comment in aresearchers tend to agree to that specific completely different way that it isdefinition. Meaning, that they agree on the officially intended. The sender might wantfact that the behavior is repeated, that it to actually give a compliment or soundinvolves psychological pain, and that it is funny, whereas the receiver mightdone with an intent (Tokunga, 2010). interpret it as a negative comment (Van Leeuwen, 2012). An example of this
would be a message on someones timeline experienced being negatively affected inon Facebook saying ‘Bastard ;-) you some way. Similar findings have beenkissed Lucy yesterday!’. The receiver reported by Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak &could interpret the word ‘bastard’ as Finkelhor (2006), whereas they suggestnegative. Also the fact that the other that victims have significantly higherperson mentioned the person kissing with levels of depression, which results in asomeone else, can still be seen as a thread. lower self-esteem. Again, when looking atIn contrast, the sender might just wanted the current definitions, none of the aboveto get a conversation started, or give a psychological effects have been mentionedcompliment to the other person, through a in either one of the definitions, whereasneg. The question now, however, is scholars do suggest that the implicationswhether one could see acts like these as underscore the seriousness of thecyberbullying, whenever an individual phenomenon (Tokunga, 2010).experiences the act as cyberbullying, eventhough it was not intended by the sender 5. Conclusionas cyberbullying. One would suggest so. One can acknowledge that scholars eachTo add to that, one would also suggest that have different definitions, however theyemotion and interpretation play an do tend to agree that the behavior relatedimportant role in this matter. to cyberbullying is repeated, it involves psychological pain, and it is done with anEmotion, however, is a completely intent. However, there are still a lot ofdifferent, yet important aspect that has not aspects that have obviously not beenbeen added to any of the definitions included in the definitions that have beenprovided above. Emotions, also described developed so far, such as theas psychological consequences, that often psychological effects or ways ofgo hand in hand with bullying, are ones interpretation. These aspects should bewhere the individual becomes insecure, considered in creating a definition aboutlonely, sad, develops more social anxiety cyberbullying. Further research shouldor becomes over-compliant (Hawker & focus on identifying multiple dimensionsBoulton, 2000). Additionally, when an that are important to cyberbullying, checkindividual is being cyberbullied, research which aspects should be included andsuggest that the individual displays similar which aspects should be removed from thebehaviors (Beran & Li, 2007). Patchin and definition. Then a general definition canHinduja (2006) reported in their study that be created.individuals who were cyberbulliedReferencesBeran, T., & Li, Q. (2007). The Relationship between Cyberbullying and School Bullying. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 1(2), 15-33.Besley (2012). Cyberbullyning. Retrieved on June, 1, 2012, from http://www.cyberbullying.orgErdur-Baker, O. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of internet-mediated communication tools. New Media & Society, 12, 109-125. doi: 10.1177/1461444809341260Hawker, D.S.J., & Boulton, M.J. (2000). Twenty years’ research on peer victmization and psychosocial maladjustment: A meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Psychological Psychiatry, 41, 411-455. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00629Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J.W. (2006). Offline Consequences of Online Victimization: School violence and Delinquency. Journal of School Violence, 6, 89-112.
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