Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Ellis Gesten

Keywords

academics, electronic, parenting, peer, victimization

Abstract

For the past several decades, researchers have extensively investigated the impact of bullying on the nation's youth. Although we may now have a better understanding of these maladaptive behaviors, recent technological advances have created a new forum for bullying. The current study investigated adolescent experiences with cyber-bullying using a self-report survey. Youth (N=2,086) from five high schools (grades 9-12) were surveyed to identify individual, peer, parenting, and school factors hypothesized to be related to involvement in cyber-bullying as a victim, perpetrator, or both. Results indicated that cyber-involvement was related to a variety of psychosocial factors, with students who were both perpetrator and victim (i.e., cyber-bully/victims) reporting worse psychosocial functioning and poorer relationships than youth classified as cyber-bullies, cyber-victims, and cyber-uninvolved. Additionally, the academic and behavioral correlates of involvement in this new and growing form of bullying were examined using school records. Inconsistent associations between cyber-bullying and school performance variables were accounted for by differences in the frequency and intensity of behaviors used to define cyber-bullying. Proposed moderators were investigated to determine whether social support buffered the negative psychosocial correlates found for adolescents involved in cyber-bullying. Social support was generally related to better psychosocial functioning for all youth, with the exception of cyber-bully/victims. Results may inform the design and implementation of universal prevention and intervention programs, as well as improve schools' ability to identify youth at risk for involvement in this rapidly growing social phenomenon.

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