All About Cyberbullies: Who They Are and What They Do
Almost every adolescent has access to the internet nowadays and most of them have a mobile phone. Therefore it is not surprising that cyberbullying, or bullying through these new technologies, is increasing. To put cyberbullies to a stop it is necessary to know who they are, what they do, and why they bully. That was the reason for a study in which we interviewed adolescents on their experiences with cyberbullying.
Interviews through MSN-Messenger
Information about cyberbullies was obtained by interviewing 61 adolescents between 12 and 18 years old via MSN Messenger. Cyberbullies, cybervictims, adolescents who were both, and adolescents who had witnessed cyberbullying, all talked about a cyberbullying event.
Digital communication has created a new way to bully. This may enable some adolescents to become bullies, who might not have been bullies otherwise. Are cyberbullies simply traditional bullies who use new methods to bully or are they a new group? Cyberbullying and traditional bullying are related.
- Almost 70% of cyberbullies also bullied in real life (“allround bullies”). Of them, more than half bullied the same victim in both ways.
- The remaining 30% of cyberbullies bullied only in the cyberworld (“pure bullies”). Cyberbullies do have experience with traditional bullying, however only as a bully; they had little experience with victimization.
What differentiated “pure cyberbullies” from “allround bullies”? Pure cyberbullies did not match the profile of a ‘typical’ traditional bully, who is often dominant, popular, but disliked. In addition, they were less dominant and deviant than allround bullies. These results support the idea that a different group of adolescents is able to bully in cyberspace. Pure cyberbullies do not have to be ‘tough’ to be able to bully. However, pure cyberbullies also shared characteristics with allround bullies. They did not differ in levels of empathy, social intelligence, relational aggression, or school achievement. Neither did they differ in the motives for their bullying behavior.
Even though cyberspace lends itself perfectly for bullying by unknowns, as in traditional bullying, many cyberbullies were peers close to the victim such as classmates, friends, and schoolmates. Cyberbullies were more often boys, while cybervictims were most often girls.
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