Understanding cyberbullying in the net generation: A meta-analytic review



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The world over has seen an increase in technological expansion. Adolescents are active consumers in the spread of social networking sites and interfacing online. Though there are many benefits for Internet and communication technologies, there are also numerous concerns for a new issue: Cyberbullying. Defined as bullying through electronic communication (Li, 2008) or any hostile or aggressive message sent digitally and repeatedly to an individual (Tokunaga, 2010), Cyberbullying is a new type of bullying receiving media attention as a new world epidemic by increasing frequency of online bullying, suicides, threats, and legal action.
Particularly in the case of a fast growing global phenomenon like cyberbullying, research is necessary to better understand the implications for individuals across contexts, and to develop a cohesive groundwork for researchers and policy makers to draw upon. In the current study, a comprehensive review of literature throughout the world over the last decade on cyberaggression identifies a multitude of terminologies used by individual countries; for example, electronic bullying in the US may be understood in Germany as cyber-mobbing, in Italy as Virtual-bullying, or the Czech Republic as online harassment (Kowalski & Limber, 2007; Nocentini et al. 2010; Ševčíková, & Šmahel; 2009). Also, definitional issues such as what qualifies as cyberbullying and if cyberaggression (Grigg, 2010) is a more appropriate definition to grasp the nature of cyberbullying behaviors. Behavioral patterns of cyberbullies and victims regarding platform, or type of media preferred was found by reviewing 95 articles. Countries were grouped into North America (NA) and the rest of the world, which includes Europe, Asia, and Australia (EAA) as the other group for comparison. In NA, chatrooms were the most common platform for bullies and victims. EAA reported Internet use (unspecified means). This study also identified most common responses or reasons cyberbullies act aggressively towards others online. Most common responses in NA were because of previous victimization; the EAA group reported a tie between pro-social issues/empathy and high frequency online. From meta-analyses, gender differences show males to be more involved with cyberbullying than females, whereas females are cybervictimized more than males. These findings support and contradict current research as females were thought to be more involved with relational aggression (Archer & Coyne, 2005) than males. Recommendations for future research and implications of findings are discussed.