Assessing Concerns and Issues about the Mediation of Technology in Cyberbullying

Vol.2,No.2(2008)

Abstract
Cyberbullying has emerged as a recent form of peer aggression in our communities. As its name implies, cyberbullying occurs through the use of an electronic medium with the purpose to harm others. Although research has already demonstrated a number of serious consequences of cyber-victimization, many questions remain unanswered concerning the impact of cyberbullying. Longitudinal data do not yet exist to provide empirical evidence concerning the long-term effects of cyberbullying, but many researchers believe that these might be as bad, if not worse, than those resulting from traditional bullying. In the debate on the true impact of cyberbullying, various concerns related to the mediation of technology, have been raised by numerous researchers and writers. These concerns include new media’s potential to safeguard anonymity, to intrude 24/7 in peers’ lives, to remain unnoticed for teachers, parents and educators and to strip away cues of non-verbal communication by the victim. To meet the demand for more conceptual clarity on the terrain of cyberbullying, this article offers a conceptual framework by bringing together these issues and critically discussing them within the scope of the current knowledge on cyberbullying.

Keywords:
cyberbullying, teenagers, online harassment
Author biographies

Wannes Heirman

Author photo Wannes Heirman is a research and teaching assistant at the department of Communication Studies of the University of Antwerp. After obtaining his master's degree in Communication Sciences (University of Antwerp, 2006), he started doing research work for the research team MIOS. In the period 2008-2009 he worked on a research report concerning cyberbullying. This report was destined for the Belgian Internet Rights Observatory and ultimately resulted in a policy advice. Besides the topic of cyberbullying, he has a broad interest for research into how information and communication technologies are impacting the daily lives of young children and teenagers. The main focus of his PhD-research is devoted to the question how young children and teenagers deal with their privacy on the Internet.

Michel Walrave

Author photo Michel Walrave is an associate professor at the department of Communication Studies of the University of Antwerp. He leads the research group MIOS that conducts research on, amongst others, young people’s ICT uses. His research focuses on societal implications of ICT, and ICT-use related privacy risks in particular. He has conducted several research projects on e-marketing, social networking sites and privacy and on cyberbullying. He teaches courses on societal implications of ICT, marketing communications and e-marketing. Michel Walrave holds a master’s degree in Communication Studies, a Master in Information Science and a PhD in Social Sciences.
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