Cyberbullying experiences on-the-go: When social media can become distressing

Special issue: Children in cyberspace: Opportunities, risks and safety

The current study examines the differences between those who have been cyberbullied online and on mobile devices (on-the-go) and those who have been cyberbullied online but not on mobile devices. Additionally, country differences in cyberbullying on-the-go are explored. Analyses were carried out employing a random stratified sample of 25,142 children aged 9-16 from 25 European countries. A multilevel stepwise logistic regression with cyberbullying mode (online and mobile phone vs. online only) as the dependent variable showed that among online bully victims being cyberbullied on-the-go was less likely in Bulgaria and Denmark and more likely in Sweden when compared to the odds across all countries. Moreover, being cyberbullied on-the-go was associated with being older, female and using the internet on-the-go (step 1), higher sensation seeking, psychological difficulties and being more upset by the experience (step 2) as well as a higher likelihood of being bullied via social networking sites (SNS) and instant messages (IM) but not the range of cyberbullying types experienced (step 3). In this last step of the analysis being upset by the experience as well as psychological difficulties ceased to be related to the mode of cyberbullying suggesting that cyberbullying experiences on SNS and IM are potential mechanisms by which cyberbullying on-the-go is experienced as more distressing.

cyberbullying; bullying; adolescence; aggression; social networking
Author biographies

Anke Görzig

Author photo Anke Görzig is Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as well as Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London (UCL). She was the Survey Research Officer of the EU Kids Online II project. Anke received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Mannheim and has extensive experience in quantitative research in the social sciences.

Lara A. Frumkin

Author photo Lara Frumkin is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of East London. She received her BS, MA and PhD in Psychology in the USA. Lara has previously worked at the American Psychological Association, the US Justice Department, Middlesex University and the Institute of Education.

Berson I. R., Berson M. J., & Ferron J. M. (2007). Emerging risks of violence in the digital age: Lessons for educators from an online study of adolescent girls in the United States. Retrieved from:

Blair, J. (2003). New breed of bullies torment peers on the Internet. Education Week, 22(1), 6-7.

Browne, W. J., Subramanian, S. V., Jones, K., & Goldstein, H. (2005). Variance partitioning in multilevel logistic models that exhibit overdispersion. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 168, 599–613.

Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber bullying: An old problem in a new guise? Australian Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 15, 68-76.

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155-159.

Coleman, J., & Hagell, A. (Eds.). (2007). Adolescence, risk and resilience: Against the odds. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Coyne, S. M., Archer, J., & Eslea, M. (2006). ‘‘We’re not friends anymore! Unless….’’: The frequency and harmfulness of indirect, relational, and social aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 32, 294–307.

Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study (ACBPS). Perth, Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University.

Digital buzz blog (2011). Facebook statistics, stats & facts for 2011. Retrieved from:

Dooley, J. J., Cross, D., Hearn, L., & Treyvaud, R. (2009). Review of existing Australian and international cyber-safety research. Edith Cowan University.

Dowell, E. B., Burgess, A. W., & Cavanaugh, D. J. (2009). Clustering of Internet risk behaviors in a middle school student population. Journal of School Health, 79, 547 - 553.

Due, P., Holstein, B. E., Lynch, J., Diderichsen, F., Gabhain, S. N., Scheidt, P., & Currie, C. (2005). Bullying and symptoms among school-aged children: International comparative cross sectional study in 28 countries. European Journal of Public Health, 15, 128-132.

Erdur-Baker, Ö. (2010). Cyberbullying and its correlation to traditional bullying, gender and frequent and risky usage of Internet-mediated communication tools. New Media & Society, 12, 109-125.

Farmer, A., Redman, K., Harris, T., Mahmood, A., Sadler, S., & McGuffin, P. (2001). Sensation-seeking, life events and depression: The Cardiff Depression Study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 178, 549-552.

Forero, R., McLellan, L., Rissel, C., & Baumann, A. (1999). Bullying behaviour and psychosocial health among school students in New South Wales, Australia: Cross sectional survey. British Medical Journal, 319, 344–351.

Gentile, B., Twenge, J. M., Freeman, E. C., & Campbell, W. (2012). The effect of social networking websites on positive self-views: An experimental investigation. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 1929–1933.

GfK (2012). Smartphone Instant Messaging: The dawn of a new era in communication. Retrieved from

Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 38, 581-586.

Görzig, A. (2011). Who bullies and who is bullied online? EU Kids Online - Short Report. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from:

Görzig, A. (2012). Methodological framework: the EU Kids Online project. In S. Livingstone, L. Haddon, & A. Görzig (Eds.), Children, risk and safety online: Research and policy challenges in comparative perspective (pp. 15-32). Bristol: The Policy Press.

Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2013). What makes a bully a cyberbully? Unravelling the characteristics of cyberbullies across twenty-five European countries. Journal of Children and Media, 7, 9-27.

Gradinger, P., Strohmeier, D., & Spiel, C. (2009). Traditional bullying and cyberbullying: Identification of risk groups for adjustment problems. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 217, 205-213.

GSMA Mobile Media Metrics (2010). Mobile social networking – the statistics are compelling. Retrieved from:

Hasebrink, S., Görzig, A. S., Haddon, L. G., Kalmus, V., & Livingstone, S. (2011). Patterns of risk and safety online: In-depth analyses from the EU Kids Online survey of 9- to 16-year-olds and their parents in 25 European countries. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from:

Hasebrink, U., Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., & Ólafsson, K. (2009). Comparing Children's Online Opportunities and Risks across Europe: Cross-national Comparisons for EU Kids Online. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from:

Hawker, D. J., & Boulton, M. J. (2000). Twenty years' research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: A meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. Journal of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 41, 441-455.

Juvonen, J., & Gross, E. F. (2008). Extending the school grounds? Bullying experiences in cyberspace. The Journal of School Health, 78, 496-505.

Kim, Y. S., Koh, Y. J., & Leventhal, B. (2005). School bullying and suicidal risk in Korean middle school students. Pediatrics, 115, 357–363.

Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2007). Electronic bullying among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6), S22-S30.

Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S. P., & Agatston, P. W. (2008). Cyber bullying: Bullying in the digital age. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Kreft, I., & De Leeuw, J. (1998). Introducing multilevel modeling. London: Sage Publications.

Kumpulainen K., Räsänen E., & Henttonen I. (1998). Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22, 705-717.

Lee, J. (2005). Teens with mobiles to steal thunder from 3G revolution. Retrieved from:

Li, Q. (2007). New bottle but old wine: A research of cyberbullying in schools. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(4), 1777-1791.

Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., & Görzig, A. (2012) Children, Risk and Safety on the Internet: Kids online in comparative perspective. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Livingstone, S., Haddon, L. G., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011a). Risks and Safety on the Internet: The perspective of European Children - Full findings and policy implications from the EU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents in 25 countries. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from:

Livingstone, S., Haddon, L. G., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011b). The 2010 EU Kids Online Survey: A technical report and a user guide. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. Retrieved from:

Manago, A. M., Taylor, T., & Greenfield, P. M. (2012). Me and my 400 friends: The anatomy of college students' Facebook networks, their communication patterns, and well-being. Developmental Psychology, 48, 369-380.

Mann, B. L. (2009). Social networking websites – a concatenation of impersonation, denigration, sexual aggressive solicitation, cyber-bullying or happy slapping videos. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 17, 252–267.

Mesch, G. S. (2009). Parental mediation, online activities, and cyberbullying. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12, 387-393.

Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M. D., Haynie, D. L., Ruan, W. J., & Scheidt, P. C. (2003) Relationships between bullying and violence among US youth. Archives of paediatrics and adolescent medicine, 157, 348-353.

National Children’s Home (2002). The end of my tether?: How to cope when you and your teenager are having problems. Retrieved from:

Ofcom (2011). Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report. Retrieved from:

Office of National Statistics (2011). Internet access - households and individuals, 2011. Statistical Bulletin. Retrieved from:

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Ortega, R., Elipe, P., Mora-Merchán, J. A., Calmaestra, J., & Vega, E. (2009). The emotional impact on victims of traditional bullying and cyberbullying: A study of Spanish adolescents. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 217, 197-204.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Trends in online social networking: Adolescent use of MySpace over time. New Media & Society, 12, 197-216.

Perren, S., Dooley, J., Shaw, T., & Cross, D. (2010). Bullying in school and cyberspace: Associations with depressive symptoms in Swiss and Australian adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 4, 1-10.

Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, P., & Runnel, P. (2012). Online opportunities. In S. Livingstone, L. Haddon & A. Görzig (Eds.), Children, risk and safety online: Research and policy challenges in comparative perspective. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Raskauskas, J., & Stoltz, A. D. (2007). Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 43, 564-575.

Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models. Applications and data analysis methods (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Reid, P., Monsen, J., & Rivers, I. (2004). Psychology's contribution to understanding and managing bullying within schools. Educational Psychology in Practice, 20, 241-258.

Rideout, V. J., Foehr, U. G., & Roberts, D. F. (2010). Generation M2. Media in the lives of 8–18-year-olds. Washington, DC: Henry J. Kaiser Foundation.

Schoon, I. (2006). Risk and resilience: Adaptations in changing times. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Slater, M. D., Henry, K. L., Swaim, R., & Cardador, J. M. (2004). Vulnerable teens, vulnerable times: How sensation seeking, alienation, and victimization moderate the violent media content-aggressiveness relation. Communication Research, 31, 642-668.

Slonje, R., Smith, P. K., & Frisen, A. (2013). The nature of cyberbullying, and strategies for prevention. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 26–32.

Slonje, R., & Smith, P. K. (2008). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying?. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49, 147-154.

Smith, P. (2011, September). Progress in cyberbullying research. Paper presented at the conference Children, risk and safety online: Research and policy challenges in comparative perspective, London.

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376-385.

Smith, R. E., Ptacek, J. T., & Smoll, F. L. (1992). Sensation seeking, stress, and adolescent injuries: A test of stress-buffering, risk-taking, and coping skills hypotheses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 1016-1024.

Spears, B., Slee, P., Owens, L., & Johnson, B. (2009). Behind the scenes and screens: Insights into the human dimension of covert and cyberbullying. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 217, 189-196.

Steinberg, L., Albert, D., Cauffman, E., Banich, M., Graham, S., & Woolard, J. (2008). Age differences in sensation seeking and impulsivity as indexed by behavior and self-report: Evidence for a dual systems model. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1764-1778.

Stephenson, M. T., Hoyle, R. H., Palmgreen, P., & Slater, M. D. (2003). Brief measures of sensation seeking for screening and large-scale surveys. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 72, 279-286.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Thelwall, M. (2008). Social networks, gender and friending: An analysis of MySpace member profiles. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59, 1321–1330.

Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 277-287.

Willard, N. E. (2007). Cyber-bullying and cyber-threats: Responding to the challenge of online social aggression, threats, and distress. Illinois: Research Press.

Williams, K. R., & Guerra, N. G. (2007). Prevalence and predictors of internet bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 14–21.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. (2008). Is talking online to unknown people always risky? Distinguishing online interaction styles in a national sample of youth internet users. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11, 340-343.

Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004a). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and targets: A comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1308-1316.

Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2004b). Youth engaging in online harassment: Associations with caregiver-child relationships, Internet use, and personal characteristics. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 319–336.

Zuckerman, M. (1979). Sensation seeking: Beyond the optimal level of arousal. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.





HTML views