High School Students’ Suggestions for Preventing Cyberbullying ‘The Internet Is a Mask’

Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health

Leandra N. Parris, PhD, Kris Varjas, PsyD, Joel Meyers, PhDDisclosures
Western J Emerg Med. 2014;15(5):587-592.

cyber Interactions through technology have an important impact on today’s youth. While some of these interactions are positive, there are concerns regarding students engaging in negative interactions like cyberbullying behaviors and the negative impact these behaviors have on others. The purpose of the study was to explore participant suggestions for both students and adults for preventing cyberbullying incidents.
Conclusion: Findings show some potential ways to improve adult efforts to prevent cyberbullying. These strategies include parent/teacher training in technology and cyberbullying, interventions focused more on student behavior than technology restriction, and helping students increase their online safety and awareness.

Technology exposure for youth has increased substantially in the past decade, with students spending about the same amount of time using technology as they do in school.[1] While access to technology has many advantages, it also increases the potential for cyberbullying.[2] Cyberbullying has been defined as the repeated use of technology to cause intentional distress or to threaten others.[3,4] Researchers have demonstrated that being a victim of cyberbullying was associated with negative mental health and behavioral concerns such as loneliness,[5] conduct problems,[4,6] and feelings of fearfulness.[7] Some studies have suggested that victims of cyberbullying were at increased risk for depression,[6–8] suicidal ideation,[9] and lowered self-esteem.[6,8] Given the impact cyberbullying may have on students’ mental health, it is important to identify ways in which both students and adults can address this phenomenon.

The most commonly reported coping strategies in prior research on cyberbullying has been avoidance.[10,11] Avoidance strategies involved deleting hurtful messages or blocking the cyberbully from posting on online profiles,[3,10,11,13] either to ignore negative emotions or to discourage continued cyberbullying.[3,10] Participants also have reported coping strategies such as ignoring the situation,[10,12] substance use,[14] pretending that it did not bother them,[12] or talking to friends.[10,11,13] Students have been found to be less likely to talk to adults about cyberbullying when compared to victims of traditional bullying.10,11,13 The reported reasons for not talking to adults about cyberbullying included the fear that reporting incidents would result in technology being taken away, as well as a lack of confidence in adults’ ability to address the problem.[3,10,13]

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