Social Networking Sites What a 'Literature Review' chapter

Excerpt from 'Literature Review' chapter :

All that is left are the bullying words, without so much of the context that comes with face-to-face communications. Franek's surmised that children who have been cyberbullied are more likely to perform cyberbullying on others.

With cyberbullying on the rise, this is of particular concern. "When asked if they had been buillied while online, 10% indicated yes. The 2006 NASSP publication News Leader indicated that 33% of all teens aged 12 to 17 years have had mean, threatening, or embarrassing things said about them online" (Kite, Gable, and Filipelli, 2010, p. 162). As suicide is a very real, but extreme, result of cyberbullying, clearly this issue needs to be addressed by both parents and educators.

Livingstone and Brake (2010) cite slightly different figures indicating the incidence of cyberbullying. In fact, they cite a few surveys that provide contradictory information of the rate of cyberbullying. A 2006 survey in the UK, Bullying UK, found that although 69% of UK students had been bullied in the previous year, only seven percent had indicated that they had received unpleasant or bullying e-mails, instant messages or text messages. Another British survey cited by Livingstone and Brake found that 20% of those surveyed had been cyberbullied.

In the United States, Livingstone and Brake (2010) also provide study information that is contrary to other studies reported. In one online study of 12 to 17-year-olds, 72% had indicated that they had been bullied online in the previous year. Eighty-five percent indicated that they had been bullied in school. This, the researchers conclude, show a link between online and offline bullying. To further support this claim, Livingstone and Brake cite Hinduja and Patchin who found that 82% of those who had been bullied online knew their perpetrator, and 42% who reported being cyberbullied also indicated that they had been bullied at school.

Lack of Understanding of Threats, Conduct and Consequences of Social Networking Behaviors:

Kite, Gable and Filippelli (2010) agree that both cyberbullying and Internet predators are serious threats to young people on the Internet. Additionally, there are lasting consequences to the conduct these young people take on the social networking sites, which made lead to problems for school administrators, parents and even law enforcement. As such, the researchers used a 34-item survey to assess the knowledge of what constitutes appropriate behavior on social networking sites. Five hundred-eighty eight seventh and eighth grade students from a suburban and an urban school were surveyed. It was discovered that although Internet predators is a serious concern for children using social networking sites, a student is far more likely to encounter cyberbullying. The researchers found that most children do not fully understand the risks they are taking or the consequences to their online behavior.

The findings of Kite, Gable and Filipelli's (2010) study uncovered some disturbing facts regarding children's knowledge about the threats that exist with social networking sites. Approximately 71% of the student respondents did not think that an Internet predator would contact them, given the information they had posted online. Additionally, 63% of the respondents did not fully comprehend the possible risk of Internet predators, including a lack of understanding that predators could track students on the Internet. Disturbingly, "only 40% of the students indicated that they would tell an adult if they were contacted by someone they did not know. The fear is, perhaps, that they would not be allowed to continue using the Internet if this were to happen. (…) Similar to the finding for the Internet predation item, only 44% indicated that they would tell an adult if they were the victim of cyberbullying" (p. 162). This finding is much lower than the national average; however, out of the 588 students surveyed, approximately 59 had been bullied by another student. The authors note that some would conclude that even one cyberbullied child is too many.

Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, & Wold (2009) note that cyberbullying is an emerging threat for students in Europe. However, despite this, they concluded that there was little research and knowledge on the topic. For their study, "cyberbullying' involves the use of different technological platforms to support hostile behavior by an individual or group that harm others" (p. 349). Their research examined whether the experience of children regarding cyberbullying differs with the technological platforms and socio-demographic variables. Two Norwegian studies are reviewed that conclude that cyberbullying most often occurs through e-mail.

Past research showed that girls were not only most often victims, but also perpetrators of cyberbullying. And frequent Internet users are more likely to experience cyberbullying. Additionally, Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, and Wold (2009) found in their review of past research that older children and those who spent more time online, were more likely to engage or encounter the risks of online communication, and are more likely to be victims of bullying. It was further found that most cyberbullying that occurred through social networking sites, was sexual and also most often took place in online communities where the users were anonymous. The past research found that teenage girls were the most common victims of this type of cyberbullying, with the perpetrators most often being adults.

Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, and Wold's (2009) results differed slightly from the previous research they had reviewed. Their research found that cyberbullying most often was experienced via e-mail (22%)

followed by IM (15%), while the services that were least often problematic

were chat rooms (9%) and mobile phones (8%). Given the results of previous research and media richness theory, (they) would have expected that the prevalence of cyberbullying would be higher for chat rooms and IM than for e-

mail. E-mail is a more personal media and is not regarded as high level anonymity technology compared to chat rooms. However, one explanation is that most children still use e-mail frequently and therefore still are accessible for bulllies in this platform, while chat rooms no longer are a prime communication arena for today's always-on generation (p. 361).

Age was also determined to be an important factor, in Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, and Wold's (2009) study. The youngest children in their study were found to be less likely to experience bullying. Teens, especially the oldest teens, were found to more likely experience bullying across all of the technological platforms investigated. However, the researchers note that this finding may be due to the design of the questionnaire. It asked if the participant had experience cyberbullying in their lifetime, rather than over a shorter period of time, such as within the last month or year. For this reason, the findings indicating older children were more likely to experience bullying may be due to the simple fact that they have more exposure to online communications. As such, this finding may indicate that educators should be more wary of cyberbullying as their students age.

In online communities, where the accepted etiquette is to use nicknames and not real names, was found to be an instance where girls more frequently experienced cyberbullying. The communities where this cyberbullying most often occurred, according to Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, and Wold (2009), where the members in the community were more geographically dispersed, and were less oriented toward intimate social groups. Instead they groups that were oriented toward users who wanted to meet new online people, experienced higher incidents of cyberbullying. Social networking sites with lower levels of cyberbullying were sites that encouraged and supported real-life connections with other members. These types of sites have a reduced level of user anonymity. Brandtzaeg, Staksrud, Hagen, and Wold surmise from these findings that anonymity in social networking sites contributes to higher levels of cyberbullying.

Social Networking Sites and Identity Development in Children:

Livingstone and Brake (2010) note that an individual's identity is built through the interaction with other people. With the increased adoption of social networking sites, these sites are becoming places where young people experiment and perform with their identity. "As both technology and its uses evolve, this reconfigures the possibilities for social identity construction in ways that are not yet fully understood" (p. 76). Despite the consequences, there is one thing that remains constant, the desire for young people to connect with their peers no matter what the time of day or the place.

Children have a strong need to express themselves, share their experiences and stay in touch. This is contrary to the popular worries about children who are isolated loners, staying at home and chatting with online strangers.

As distinct from the sociable kids with healthy face-to-face social lives, empirical research undermines any sharp line between online and offline, or virtual and face-to-face. Rather, youthful practices are best characterized by the flexible intermixing of multiple forms of communication, with online communication primarily used to sustain local friendships already established offline, rather than to make new contacts with distant strangers, and this applies equally to social networking and others (Livingstone & Brake, 2010, p. 76).

Livingstone and Brake (2010) note that the catalyst of the growth in online communication is partially due to the need…

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