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Bullying in its various forms is one of the new emerging problems that many children and teenagers have to face daily at school or while practicing extracurricular activities away from their parents’ view and protection. Bullying is becoming an increasingly important problem for parents, school administrators and teachers, and it affects our society at large.
Bullying is not only physical, but it can also disrupt a person’s emotional life through mobbing and cyberbullying which is its worst form. In fact, cyberbullying is a terrible weapon that can destroy someone’s reputation and life for good in no time. That is why cyberbullying may have serious implications, even legal ones, for those who practice it. This paper will present facts about bullying and its effect on youth, and will provide some possible solutions to the problem.
Cyber Bullying is a major problem many people face. Some get really hurt from being bullied and they eventually begin to get depressed. Many people got hurt from this, but it is time to say stop. Cyber Bullying is not suppose to happen on the internet or any other type of social media because social media are suppose to be educational and helpful and not an item of harm. Please join me in stopping this problem or even danger that people get hurt from by joining me in this campaign in order to help reduce this problem and make it slowly fade away.
URJHS Volume 12 | | |
Bullying on Facebook: How It Affects Secondary School and College StudentsEmily Salinas, Deana Coan, Sara Ansley, Andrew Barton, Caleb McCaig Tarleton State UniversityAbstractSocial networking websites have contributed to a new kind of bullying—cyberbullying. In this study, we investigated how cyberbullying via Facebook affects students transitioning from high school to college and if bullying persists after that time period. The purpose of this study was to better understand how bullying emerges from interpersonal communication on social networking websites.In order to accomplish the purpose of our study, we proposed the following research questions: “How does bullying through Facebook affect students?” and “How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?”Problem StatementHigh school and college students across the country are utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook to communicate with current friends and family and to create new friendships.
This has both positive and negative effects on their well-being. While it allows students to obtain “support and information,” this technology can potentially expose them to racial or hate-based messages (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008, p. 119). As social networking sites begin to take a large role in the interaction of students, “it is important to consider them in the context of the interpersonal relationships” (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008, p. 125).As technological advancements make it possible to communicate across a wide variety of social media almost instantly leaving less time for students to consider their words and actions, a new form of bullying is becoming prevalent among our nation’s teens, called cyberbullying (Kite, Gable, & Filippelli, 2010). Cyberbullying is defined as harassment, intimidation, or bullying by means of technological advancement (Kite, Gable, & Filippelli, 2010). When someone is bullied on Facebook, they are harassed or are the recipient of hateful messages. The long-term effects of cyberbullying on high school and college students along with its impact on social networking have not been thoroughly discussed.Purpose StatementIn this study, we researched how cyberbullying via Facebook affects students transitioning from high school to college and whether it persisted after that time period.
The purpose of this study is to better understand how bullying impacts interpersonal communication on social networking websites.Research QuestionsIn order to accomplish the purpose of our study, we proposed the following research questions: 1. How does bullying through Facebook affect students? 2. How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?Review of LiteratureBackground & Description of Cyberbullying Facebook has as many as 350 million users and is the most popular social networking site used by college students (Houghton & Johnson, 2010). Developed in the late 1990s strictly for college students, Facebook has become the “behemoth” of the social networking websites as it has opened its site to anyone able to create a profile (North, 2011, p. 1285). Most people create a social networking profile with the purpose of maintaining communication with current friends and family, making new friends, and exploring and sharing interests.
Users maintain communication with others by posting updates, sharing pictures, commenting on other users’ profiles, and sending private messages. The most often reported use for Facebook among college students was, “for social interaction, primarily with friends with whom the students had a pre-established relationship offline” (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2009, p. 227).Facebook and Teenage Cyberbullying As today’s teenagers become more consumed with using online social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, the incidents of cyberbullying are also increasing. Studies are being conducted to identify the correlation between bullying and SNS; however, this is still a relatively new phenomenon, which makes it difficult to form a solid consensus (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2011). A survey conducted in 2005, the second Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS-2), “found that nine percent of young Internet users reported being harassed online. Harassment included being bothered online as well as having someone post or send messages about them to others” (Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008, p. 127). While both boys and girls were targets of bullying, Subrahmanyam and Greenfield (2008) noted girls were more likely to be harassed (p. 127).Another study, conducted between October and November of 2006, used data collected by Pew Internet American Life Survey.
“The survey collected information on whether the teens had been contacted by strangers online or had been bullied in any form, including whether they had rumors spread about them, embarrassing pictures posted online, or received threatening messages” (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2011, p. 285). The results of this study indicated that 30 percent of the surveyed population had been contacted by strangers. Additionally, the report showed more than 25 percent had been subjected to cyberbullying (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2008).As the phenomenon of cyberbullying continues to grow, it is beneficial to identify the population most impacted. This study focused on the effects cyberbullying has on students in the transition from high school to college and if it persisted after that time period. Past studies “reported that one in three teenagers experience some form of cyberbullying” (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2011, p. 284). Another survey, as noted by Walker (2011), was given to “120 undergraduate students in social science, technology, and education departments.
The majority (54%) and 100 percent of the male students said that they knew someone who had been cyber-bullied” (Walker, 2011, p. 31). Yet another study by Finkelhor et al. showed that “one in seventeen were harassed or threatened” (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2011, p. 284). It’s important to note that many cases of bullying or harassment go unreported. However, many cases, 63 percent as noted by Sengupta & Chaudhuri (2011), reported students as “being upset, embarrassed or stressed as a result of these unwanted contacts” (Sengupta & Chaudhuri, 2011, p. 284) rather than actually being bullied. This implies that many teenagers have varied definitions of bullying or try to downplay the incidents, all of which make data collection and analysis very difficult to capture. Through this study, a defined population was studied to best determine how bullying typically affected high school and college freshmen students.
The Future of Cyberbullying Cyberbullying is becoming a more prevalent problem and has redefined the usual school-yard bullying. It has become more common because of social networking technology, such as Facebook and Twitter. “Social networking may be on the verge of replacing traditional personal interactions for the next generation” (Zay, 2011, p. 56). Cyberbullying is slightly different from traditional bullying because the posts can connect to a wider audience (Holladay, 2011). The number of young people who stated they posted rude or nasty comments to another person on the internet increased from 14 percent to 28 percent from 2000 to 2005 (Kornblum, 2008).Some of the most recent reports on cyberbullying indicated that it has become a rising problem in schools, causing detrimental effects on the victim’s health. The dangers of these cyberbullying attacks have even led parents and officials to pursue legal action.
In the article, Technology & the Law, the issue is carried as deep as to discuss First Amendment rights. “The courts have said First Amendment rights do apply online. But those free-speech rights are subject to the same limits as in person and in print: You can’t defame, libel, or slander another person” (Olsen, 2010, p. 18).Theoretical FrameworkFor the purpose of our study, we used Knapp’s Theory of Coming Together and Falling Apart (Knapp, 1978) with emphasis on the Falling Apart section of the process for our theoretical framework. The Coming Together part of the process has a series of stages that must take place in order for a relationship to exist. The stages of the procedure are: initiating (i.e., sending a friend request to another Facebook user), experimenting (i.e., the other user accepts the friend request and gains access to view personal information and pictures of their new friend), intensifying (i.e., the relationship progresses; conversations between the individuals intensify in both breath and depth; a stronger bond is formed), and integration (i.e., the social friends become more involved in each other’s lives; talking more frequently or sharing activities on or offline; a friendship of equal appreciation and respect has formed).
Two individuals that may not have had the closest relationship beforehand now share a bond that is special and important to both. However, sometimes relationships like this do not last and the Falling Apart occurs.Our research focused more on the relationship falling apart, which could possibly lead to bullying, and on why people who were once friends would decide to bully someone. The relational stages of falling apart are: differentiating (i.e., both users realize that they do not have as much in common as they originally thought), circumscribing (i.e., the conversation becomes less intense both in breath and depth), stagnating (i.e., both users communicate only once per week or month), avoiding (i.e., one friend ignores the other friends’ messages and fails to respond on their Facebook walls), and terminating (i.e., both users agree to end their online and/or face-to- face friendship).Research MethodologyIn order to attain our goal for this study, we persisted through a phenomenological research design, obtained a deeper understanding of interpersonal communication on social networking sites, and considered how this kind of communication can have an effect on relationships in person or face-to-face.
Phenomenology is “the study of the world as it appears to individuals when they place themselves in a state of consciousness that reflects an effort to be free of everyday biases and beliefs” (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003, p. 481).Participants and Context Results were gathered from 44 undergraduate students attending a mid-sized higher education institution in central Texas. Twenty-seven participants were female and sixteen participants were male. Thirty-six of the participants were white, three participants were African American, three of the participants were Hispanic, and two did not include their ethnicity. Most of the participants (33) were between 18-22, six participants were between 23-26, three participants were between 27-32, and two participants indicated that they were 33 and older. Seven participants were freshmen, two participants were sophomores, sixteen participants were juniors, and nineteen participants were seniors.Instrumentation After reviewing the literature, we created a questionnaire based on our theoretical framework consisting of two survey questions:
1. How does bullying through Facebook affect students?
2. How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?In addition to the aforementioned questions, the survey featured several demographic questions focused on age range, race, gender, hometown region, major, and their academic college.
Data Collection The survey was disseminated online to at least 50 college students attending a specified university of our choosing. Our study was restricted to students who were at least 18 years of age and were willing to take the survey, graduated from a public or private high school, were currently enrolled in our chosen higher education institution, had a Facebook account and had either experienced a form of cyberbullying on Facebook themselves or known someone that experienced cyberbullying.Data Analysis Google Spreadsheets, a software package available to online researchers, was used to manually analyze the data. The data were analyzed for meaningful patterns and themes and organized appropriately. “Data analysis involves working with data, organizing them, breaking them into manageable units, synthesizing, searching for patterns, discovering what is important and what is to be learned, and deciding what you will tell others” (Bodgan & Biklen, 1998, p. 157). We persisted through the data analysis steps per the recommendations of these researchers.
A process called investigator triangulation (Denzin, 1978), where multiple researchers categorize the data, was used to make sure that participants’ responses correlated with the categories initially determined. Five student researchers and one faculty member determined these categorizations by reviewing the responses of the participants and using their own perceptions of patterns and themes, placing them into categories.We used the phenomenological research steps mentioned above in our study, while at the same time remained objective and limited our research bias. As undergraduate students we were connected to the higher education environment in various ways.ResultsAfter a two-week data-gathering period, 44 people responded to our survey. Using a phenomenological research perspective, five researchers analyzed the 44 participants’ responses for each of the survey questions in our study.
For the purposes of this study, we focused on both of the survey questions.Survey Question One: Have you ever been bullied on Facebook? Please describe a situation in which you or a friend experienced cyberbullying (i.e., bullying on Facebook).Three overarching categories, bullying contexts, bullying experiences, and dealing with bullies became clear from the participants’ responses to the survey question.The first overarching category, bullying experiences, consisted of the following subcategories: friends’ experience,” “witnessed with friends,” “knowledge but no experience,” “relationship/ex-relationship,” “not experienced bullying,” “unsure.” Table 1 provides a frequency distribution of responses from the bullying experiences category.Table 1- Frequency Distribution of Responses Related to Bullying Experiences | Friends’ Experience| Witnessed with Friends| Knowledge but no Experience| Relationship/ Ex- relationship| Not Experienced bullying| Unsure| TOTAL| Participants’
Responses| 4| 4| 5| 4| 23| 3| 43|
The subcategory “not experienced bullying” had the most responses (23).The “knowledge but no experience” subcategory had the most number of relevant participant responses (5). One example of the participants’ responses was, “I have never been cyber- bullied on Facebook, but I see it happen all the time.” There are three subcategories that had the same number of responses (4). These subcategories are “friends’ experiences,” “witnessed with friends,” and “relationship/ex-relationship.” A participant’s response from the friends’ experience subcategory was, “A friend of mine was bullied through Facebook. Saying she wasn’t pretty enough to date a certain guy, this friend’s name stayed in this post, but it was clear it was about her.”
The subcategory “witnessed with friends” (4) consisted of this participant’s response, “One of my friends and a girl that my ex-boyfriend cheated on me with were fighting on my Facebook page about how she knew he had a girlfriend and that she should not have done it.” The subcategory “relationship/ex-relationship” (4) produced this participant’s response, “Well one time I was talking to a female and then her ex-boyfriend got mad and told me he was basically going to shoot me.
This caused me to not talk to her any more.” Another participant’s response from the relationship/ex-relationship subcategory was, “A friend of mine was dating a guy for a long time and they lived in the same apartment complex as I did.
When they broke up my friends ex started to contact me and was harassing me on Facebook. I finally had to block him.”
The last participant responses (3) came from the unsure category.The second overarching category, “bullying contexts”, consisted of the following subcategories: “bullying pages (i.e., Facebook, Myspace),” “sexual orientation,” “interfere with Cyberbullying.” Table 2 provides a frequency distribution of responses from the bullying contexts. | Bullying Pages (i.e. Facebook, Myspace)| Sexual Orientation| Interfere with
Responses| 2| 1| 1| 4|
The subcategory with the highest number of responses (2) was the bullying pages (i.e. – Facebook, Myspace) category. An example of one of the participants’ responses in this subcategory was, “… someone at my high school created a Facebook page, posted a bunch of pictures of different girls, and wrote hateful things about each of them on the page.” Another similar response was, “There were some anonymous people from my high school who made a Myspace and a Facebook page and posted pictures of girls and guys. People from my high school would then go and vote on who was better looking. This was bullying to me.”
The two remaining subcategories, “sexual orientation” and “interfering with cyberbullying” both had one response each. The response for the subcategory related to sexual orientation was, “The usage, ‘that’s gay’ is bullying to me. As a homosexual it’s offensive.”The third overarching category was “dealing with bullies” and consisted of the following subcategories: “drastic measures” and “did not add bullies.” Table 3 provides a frequency distribution of responses from the “dealing with bullies” category.Table 3-Frequency Distribution of Responses Related to Dealing With Bullies | Drastic Measures| Did Not Add Bullies| TOTAL| Participants’ Responses| 1| 2| 3|
The subcategory with the highest participant responses (2) was the “did not add bullies” subcategory. One of the participants’ responses from this subcategory was, “I’ve never been bullied on Facebook. I don’t add people who I think might bully me.” The subcategory with the least participant responses (1) was the “drastic measures” subcategory. This response was, “Yes, a friend of my ex kept leaving rude messages on my wall until I deleted him. This happened a few years back and we are still not friends, but he is on my Facebook and does not pester me anymore.”Survey Question Two: While in high school, did you or a friend experience cyberbullying to the extent that it affected your academic performance in school?
This survey question focused on research question two, “How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?” Two overarching categories, “related experienced” and “bullying affects” became clear from the participants’ responses to the second survey question.The first overarching category, “related experiences”, consisted of the following subcategories: “technology not available at high school,” “face-to-face bullying,” “students not affected.” Table 4 provides a frequency distribution of responses from the related experiences | Face-to-Face Bullying| Not
Affected| Technology not available at High
responses| 2| 2| 6| 10|
The subcategory with the highest participant responses (6) was the “technology not available at High School” subcategory. The next two subcategories “face-to-face bullying” and “not affected” had an equal number of responses (2). The first “face-to-face” response was, “Nope not at all, I experienced regular bullying but not cyberbullying.” The second, “not affected,” had this response, “Um, no. I didn’t care what other people thought of me.
It’s one thing for a person to share his beliefs; however, when beliefs become actions, it’s different.”The second overarching category, “bullying affects”, consisted of the following subcategories: “affected friend’s performance/friend’s experiences” and “personally affected”. Table 5 provides a frequency distribution of responses from the bullying affects category.Table 5 – Frequency Distribution of Responses Related to Bullying Affects | Affected friend’s performance/ Friend’s Experience| Personally affected| TOTAL| Participants’
responses| 5| 2| 7|
The subcategory with the highest participant responses (5) was the “affected friend’s performance/friend’s experience” subcategory. One of the participant’s responses from this subcategory was, “My little sister was bullied all through her freshman year and even moved schools because of it.” This response from our survey is the most drastic effect cyberbullying has had on academic performance. The subcategory with the least participant responses (2) was the “personally affected” subcategory. A response from this category stated, “Yes, I was told that I should die and the next couple of weeks after that, I really couldn’t think straight.”
ConclusionsThe majority of our research focused on bullying and its effects in different contexts through social media. In this study, 44 participants contributed to our survey and provided responses that addressed cyberbullying in a personal setting and a school environment. Their responses addressed the two research questions in our study, “How does bullying through Facebook affect students?” and “How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?”Conclusions for Research Question OneResearch question one was, “How does bullying through Facebook affect students?”
The majority of our participants indicated that they have not personally been affected by cyberbullying but had witnessed it in some way. Three subcategories comprised our first category, “bullying contexts,” “bullying pages,” “sexual orientation,” and “interference with cyberbullying,” In this category, more participants responded that they had knowledge of bullying pages. One interesting reply, “I have never been bullied on Facebook. But someone at my high school created a Facebook page, posted a bunch of pictures of different girls, and wrote hateful things about each of them on the page.”
Another participant indicated that they had been bullied because of their sexual orientation. One participant revealed that a bullying instance witnessed became so horrific that interference was necessary.In our second category, “bullying experiences”, one participant responded, “While I personally have not experienced cyberbullying, I have seen it in many places on Facebook.” Another participant indicated that drastic measures were taken to delete a friend, “Yes, a friend of my ex kept leaving rude messages on my wall until I deleted him. This happened a few years back and we are still not friends but he is on my Facebook and does not pester me anymore.”
Conclusions for Research Question Two Research question two was, “How do the effects of bullying through social networking impact academic performance in school?” Based on the participants’ responses, cyberbullying does affect academic performance in some shape or form. One participant indicated that a sibling had experienced bullying and subsequently had to change schools because of the harassment.There were several more interesting findings in our participant’s responses that made our research more fascinating. These were responses about bullying because of sexual orientation, relationship issues, and even social media websites with the sole purpose of attacking someone or a group of people.Conclusions for Knapp’s Stages of Coming Together and Falling Apart Most of the participants’ responses did not follow a typical progression through Knapp’s Stages of Coming Together and Falling Apart. Only one person in our survey stated that drastic measures had been taken to delete the friend from Facebook. Several participants indicated that they would not even add some persons because they seemed like bullies.
This behavior might indicate that communication and relationships/friendships on social networking websites might follow a potentially new model of coming together and coming apart.ImplicationsThis study presents several implications for the higher education community and someone who is interested in the stages of social networking friendships. High schools and colleges should realize that although the results of this study imply that the biggest problems were among friends, it is still possible for these problems to impact student populations on campuses. Educators and administrators in the K-12 settings might consider adopting a proactive approach to cyberbullying and host information literacy sessions for their students.Suggestions for Further ResearchThis study was limited to 44 undergraduate students attending a rural, predominantly white university in Texas.
Future researchers might attempt to include a more diverse sample by focusing on a university that is more racially and ethnically diverse. Since most of our participants were seniors in the university, future researchers might choose to diversify the study by sampling equal numbers of each academic class. Our study had more female participants than men, future researchers might choose to survey an equal number of both men and women.
If our survey had a wider level of participation, more problems might have trended. However, our results showed that most of the people who attended the university had not been personally bullied. A few mentioned that they had seen others being bullied, but only a small portion had first-hand experience. In addition, future researchers might choose to do further study into the relationship between Knapp’s Stages of Coming Together and Apart.
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