Children’s Perspectives on Cyberbullying: Insights Based on Participatory Research

Baas, Niels; de Jong, Menno D. T.; Drossaert, Constance H. C.
April 2013
CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking;Apr2013, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p248
Academic Journal
Cyberbullying is an emerging problem among youngsters. Although the current body of knowledge about cyberbullying is expanding rapidly, it lacks a more in-depth research approach honoring adolescents’ perspectives on the problem. Moreover, very few studies have focused on cyberbullying among elementary school children. The purpose of this study therefore, was to explore children’s perspectives on the problem of cyberbullying. A participatory research design was used in which 28 children (aged 11–12 from four elementary schools) actively participated for 6 weeks in weekly scheduled group sessions. In these sessions, different aspects of cyberbullying were discussed using various enabling techniques. Between sessions, the children were given preparation assignments. The research revealed several ambiguities that should be addressed in interventions against cyberbullying. First, it appears difficult for all parties involved to distinguish cyberbullying from innocent pranks. Frequency and intention are key variables, but these are ambiguous in the context of cyberbullying. Second, cyberbullies may have very different motives, not all of which have to do with their relationship with the victim. Third, the expectations children have of the way their parents or teachers will react to incidents of cyberbullying are an obstacle for seeking help. Children are particularly afraid of overreaction and the subsequent loss of their Internet privileges. These results confirm earlier insights from research on cyberbullying, and examine the ambiguities in more detail. In addition, the research demonstrates the usefulness of participatory research to investigate cyberbullying among younger children and demonstrates that the research led to mutual learning.


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