The effects of the recent trend known as cyberbullying was investigated. Current literature was examined on the subject in order to establish a general basis of the various potentialities of this harmful activity. Upon synthesizing a working knowledge and hypothesis from this data, a comprehensive research method was developed whereby participants were asked to temporarily forgo their privacy in online and electronic environments. By allowing the research team to assiduously record massive amounts of peer-to-peer social media and electronic interactions, participants accurately depicted the frequency and harshness of cyberbullying activity.
As society has come to realize, bullies can have some profound affects on the overall developmental lives of their victims. The concept of bullying itself implies that someone with a perceived sense of superiority antagonizes another individual that he or she identifies as weak. This type of deplorable behavior can occur in many forms including physical, psychological, emotional and social. Traditionally, bullying has predominantly occurred in adolescent social settings like schools, sporting events, community gatherings and pretty much any other environment in which youths congregate. However, with the expansion of technology and its increased availability to children, there have been many new social forums created for adolescents. These new interactive internet-based arenas have thereby increased the scope of harmful bullying. While this type of bullying is still in its infancy stages, it has already had a massive affect on youths around the world . And while teens spend increasing amounts of time on cell phones and social media websites, the potential for harm from this type of bullying is increasing exponentially . For, being that it is not only the bully that inflicts harm, but also his or her mass of observers, these types of open technological environments allow bullies to reach a seemingly unlimited number of detrimental supporters during their persecutory activities. What is more, it has been shown that "the anonymity of the Internet makes it much easier for bullies to ruin the lives of their teenage victims." The perceived importance of one's social reputation during these critical formative years is easily tarnished and destroyed in this technological environment. And while aspects of physical intimidation used to be essential in the field of bullying, cyberbullying has seemingly given birth to a whole new breed of bullies looking to prey on helpless victims. Without question, this forum has provided new bullies with a welcoming platform to persecute, and has also opened victims up to new sources of pain and ridicule.
Even though the concept of cyberbullying is relatively new to the world, its effects have already proven to be quite profound. In fact, studies have already shown that approximately one-third of American teenagers who use the Internet have been targets of cyberbullying . Considering the gargantuan number of adolescents that use the Internet, this fact is certainly astounding and horrifying. What is more, some of the effects that have shown themselves as a result of this disastrous trend have been equally disheartening. For instance, a study done by the National Institute of Health has recently revealed that the victims of cyberbullying have shown to exhibit greater levels of depression than victims of traditional bullying . Once again, this fact heeds the necessity of controlling this type of awful behavior. While it has been shown that many cyber-bully victims are also regular bully victims, it is the potential effects of this contemporary type of bullying that are the most concerning . For studies have shown that this type of harmful persecution most often occurs outside the school . Therefore, unlike traditional forms of bullying, this kind of bullying becomes very hard for schools to appropriately discipline. And while telephone messaging and instant messaging have been the most regularly reported forums for cyberbullying, Internet bullying was shown to have a much more negative impact on victims . Nevertheless, both sources of cyberbullying have produced several horror stories concerning sufferers that have succumbed to the torment and pain of being continuously victimized.
One such case unfortunate case occurred as a result of cyberbullying via phone messaging, the more common, yet supposedly less harmful, means of cyberbullying. This regrettable scenario took place in Essex Junction, Vermont when young Ryan Halligan fell prey to a somewhat non-traditional cyber-bully . In Mr. Halligan's case, (though many of his classmates were in on the bullying scam) his bullying experience began when he started receiving amiable text messages from one of the most popular and attractive girls in his class . While she pretended to like Halligan in her messages, her true intention was only to humiliate him in front of all his peers. Upon learning of the true plot of her deviance, Halligan was unable to cope and took his own life . This sorrowful case is just one example of how devious and heartless teenagers can be in a cyberbullying environment. And in this specific example, while it is highly unlikely that this horrific prank would have been considered for the purposes of traditional bullying, the advent of cyberbullying was what made this tragic event possible. And sadly, there are countless other heartbreaking examples of the effects of cyberbullying on victims. In many cases, such occurrences have prompted the involvement of the authorities in attempts to prevent such awful outcomes . Though with the technological nature of these threats and attacks, it is often difficult for authorities to take definitively corrective action. That is, in the absence of a physical encounter, police are often unable to levy formal charges against anyone for cyberbullying.
Nevertheless, this is still a growing concern for authorities and parents. Without question, a teenager's suicide is a horrific result and no one wants such tragedies to occur again. Though, unfortunately not all victims turn the harmful hand on themselves. There have also been several highly popularized cases like the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech, which have shown the world a different kind of result born from bullying . These catastrophes have illustrated the harmful potential buried deep inside of bullying victims and have been among the leading reasons why schools have begun to genuinely regard bullying as a serious problem. In doing so, many schools have begun to attach severe disciplinary penalties to those found engaging in bullying. Though with the intensely violent and harmful outcomes of these extreme cases, we should certainly hope that authorities and lawmakers will proceed in taking more active approaches to curbing this horrific trend.
Two hundred undergraduate students at a large Georgia state university will participate in this study. Furthermore, an additional two hundred High School students (half of which will come from local private schools, the other half from the public school system) will participate in this study. The targeted age group will be between 15-21 years of age.
Online monitoring software will be used, similar to the ones used by employers to monitor the computer activity of their employees.
A questionnaire will also be given to students, parents and teachers with reference to other forms of electronic communication and overall visible effects of bullying.
University participants will be recruited through on campus advertisements as well as media marketing mechanisms. High School participants will be selected after conferencing with school boards, principals and teachers. All college-level participants would be able to sign up online or in-person at an on-campus kiosk, whereas parents would enroll High School participants. After an adequate number of participants has been established in both demographics, enrollment will be closed and participants will be asked to sign a cumulative informed consent agreement, which would outline all facets of the study and its goals. The time period for the process of cyber-monitoring would be found within this form and would likely last for a period of two to three weeks. Additionally, participants (along with parents and teachers) will also be given a specific date after the electronic monitoring period to take part in the comprehensive survey regarding other forms of technological communication and perceived effects of bullying. Accordingly, participants and adjuncts will be encouraged to self-monitor and keep notes regarding these effects encountered through all forms of cyber-communication.
Data will be analyzed using a T-test. The independent variable for the purposes of this study will exist with two conditions: the participant either did or did not experience cyberbullying. For those individuals that were unfortunate enough to experience cyberbullying, the dependent measure will be found in their self-reported and parent/teacher-reported negative personal outcomes and effects.
Upon the culmination of this study, it will likely be found that university students are more regularly exposed to cyberbullying as compared to their High School counterparts . However, even though college students will probably encounter this regrettable trend more frequently, High School students are more likely to experience greater negative effects as a result of cyberbullying . This is most likely because college students are more mature and have greater social resources as compared to High Schoolers . Additionally, High School students are typically much more connected to their…