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The cyberbystander effect

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Title:
The cyberbystander effect
Uncontrolled:
Impact of adult advice on cyberbullying bystanders
Creator:
Baker, Rachael ( author )
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English
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Cyberbullying ( lcsh )
Cyberbullying -- Psychological aspects ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Review:
The prevalence of the bystander effect in incidents of interpersonal violence and its propensity to cause passive inaction have been well researched. However, the bystander effect in cyberbullying incidents is less understood due to the complex nature of cyberbullying. This study analyzed data from the “Parent/Teen Digital Citizenship Survey” (n=799) collected by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The purpose of the study was twofold: first, to determine a baseline for teenager perceptions regarding the cyberbystander effect; and second, to determine whether parental or teacher advice regarding safe and responsible online and cell phone behavior, as well as internet parental controls would make it more likely for a teenager to overcome the cyberbystander effect and defend a victim of cyberbullying. Results indicate that teens believe their peers ignore cyberbullying 57% of the time these incidents occur. No significant effects related to victim defending and advice about online/cell-phone behavior or parental controls were observed. Further research is needed to identify evidence-based curricula for cyberbullying in addition to increased education of the cyberbystander effect and how to effectively intervene.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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System requirements: Adobe Reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Rachael Baker.

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University of Florida
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953488683 ( OCLC )
ocn953488683
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LD1193.L645 2016d B34 ( lcc )

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Full Text
THE CYBERBYSTANDER EFFECT:
THE IMPACT OF ADULT ADVICE ON CYBERBULLYING BYSTANDERS
by
RACHAEL BAKER
B.A., Florida Gulf Coast University, 2008
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Psychology
School Psychology Program
2016


This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by
Rachael Baker
has been approved for the
School Psychology Program
by
Franci Crepeau-Hobson, Chair
Bryn Harris
Colette Hohnbaum
March, 26 2016


Ill
Baker, Rachael (PsyD, School Psychology)
The Cyberbystander Effect: The Impact of Adult Advice on Cyberbullying Bystanders
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau-Hobson
ABSTRACT
The prevalence of the bystander effect in incidents of interpersonal violence and
its propensity to cause passive inaction have been well researched. However, the
bystander effect in cyberbullying incidents is less understood due to the complex nature
of cyberbullying. This study analyzed data from the Parent/Teen Digital Citizenship
Survey (n=799) collected by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
The purpose of the study was twofold: first, to determine a baseline for teenager
perceptions regarding the cyberbystander effect; and second, to determine whether
parental or teacher advice regarding safe and responsible online and cell phone behavior,
as well as internet parental controls would make it more likely for a teenager to overcome
the cyberbystander effect and defend a victim of cyberbullying. Results indicate that
teens believe their peers ignore cyberbullying 57% of the time these incidents occur. No
significant effects related to victim defending and advice about online/cell-phone
behavior or parental controls were observed. Further research is needed to identify
evidence-based curricula for cyberbullying in addition to increased education of the
cyberbystander effect and how to effectively intervene.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Franci Crepeau-Hobson


IV
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...................................................1
Purpose of the Study........................................1
II. LITERATURE REVIEW..............................................2
Bullying in the Digital Age.................................2
The Bystander Effect in Cyberspace..........................3
What Can Be Done?...........................................5
III. METHOD.........................................................8
Survey Participants.........................................9
Procedure...................................................9
Analyses...................................................10
Research Questions Part 1.........................11
Research Questions Part 2.........................11
IV. RESULTS.......................................................11
Analyses...................................................11
Research Questions Part 1.........................11
Research Questions Part 2.........................13
V. DISCUSSION....................................................15
Implications and Future Directions.........................16
REFERENCES..........................................................18


V
LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE
1: Teen Perception of the Cyberbystander Effect........................12
2: Teen Perception of Defense of a Victim..............................13
3: Teenage Perceptions of their own Cyberbystander Behavior............14


1
CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
A pioneer in bullying research, Dan Olweus, stated that the past 15 years have
brought a large increase of knowledge to the bully/victim relationship and its many facets
(2013). Bullying has also received increased attention from schools, the media, and
policymakers. In 2006, National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week, was created by
the National Center for Bullying Prevention and has evolved into National Bullying
Prevention Month every October. As of April 2015, all 50 states now have an anti-
bullying law making it illegal (Tempkin, 2015).
The digital age has ushered in new opportunities for human interaction, creating a
new vehicle for harassment that is available to anyone with internet access or a mobile
phone in the form of Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as an aggressive,
intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using mobile phones or the internet,
repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself
(Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, Fisher, Russell, & Tippett, 2008, p. 176). The Center for
Disease control and Prevention (2014) has already determined cyberbullying to be a
serious threat to public health. Cyberbullying has also gained international attention and
has been studied by researchers across the globe (Cassidy, Faucher, & Jackson, 2013).
The arrival of cyberbullying has been associated with the accelerated increase of
online content, known as information and communication technologies or ICT
(Cassidy et al., 2013, p. 576). Our modern day lives, and especially the lives of young
people, are centered around ICT. Prensky (2001) refers to the younger generation fluent
in ICT as digital natives and their parents and educators as digital immigrants, as the


gap in understanding these technologies is far-reaching (p. 1-2). Though many young
people can easily navigate the online world, not all are so technologically inclined
(Cassidy et al., 2013).
2
There are innumerable benefits to these technological advances such as access to
endless educational information (e.g., research for this very dissertation), the
development and maintenance of relationships can be facilitated with social networking
sites, as well as infinite opportunities for discovery and creativity (Kowalski, Limber, &
Agatston, 2012a; Livingstone & Haddon, 2009). Yet, with any uncharted territory there is
danger in the unknown. Even though some young people may understand how to use
technology at a more advanced level than adults, they are not necessarily any more
proficient in navigating difficult online situations (Cassidy et al., 2013).
Purpose of the Study
There is a lack of research providing teenagers views on cyberbullying and how
to intervene. Specifically, it would be helpful to have a clearer picture of teens
perceptions regarding how often the bystander effect occurs in cyberbullying. For
instance, how often do teenagers believe their peers would defend a victim being
cyberbullied? And, how often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents? In
addition, how might simple, open, and honest conversations about cyberbullying between
teachers, parents, and teenagers have an impact? Could this informal communication with
teenagers incur any effect on a teens likelihood to defend a victim in a cyberbullying
situation? What about parental controls on a teens internet usage? This research aims to
answer these questions.


3
CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
Bullying in the Digital Age
Cyberbullying and in-person bullying both tend to begin during adolescence, are
aggressive in nature, involve a power differential, and they occur within peer groups
(Park, Na, & Kim, 2014). Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between the
likelihood that someone will behave negatively both online and off (Selwyn, 2008)
indicating that those who bully in person are more likely to bully online (and vice versa).
However, Bauman and Yoon (2014) stated that cyberbullying is uniquely different from
traditional bullying in a number of ways. Specifically, cyberbullying is inherently
anonymous, which can affect inhibition; it can occur anytime and anywhere; it involves
no nonverbal communication; the size of the audience is virtually limitless; and the
content is typically on the internet permanently. These factors give cyberbullying the
propensity to inflict even more damage than in-person bullying. Also, the more tech-
savvy an individual, as well as the amount of technology they use, the higher their risk of
getting involved in a cyberbullying incident (Leung & Lee, 2012).
Suicides due to cyberbullying have received exorbitant attention from the media;
however, suicide is not the most likely outcome for its victims (Cassidy, Faucher, &
Jackson, 2013), though research does show that the relationship between cyberbullying
and suicidal thoughts is relatively strong (Aboujaoude, Savage, Starcevic, & Salame,
2015). Wolfer et al. (2014) reported that depending on the length and severity that
cyberbullying occurs, outcomes may include academic problems (Beran and Li, 2007),
psychosocial difficulties (Juvoven & Gross, 2008), somatic symptoms (Gradinger,


4
Strohmeier, & Spiel, 2009), depression (Wang, Nansel, & Iannotti, 2011), externalizing
problems (Schultze-Krumbholz, Jakel, Schultze, & Scheithauer, 2012a), mental health
problems (Sinclair, Bauman, Poteat, Koenig, & Russell, 2012), and suicidal ideation
(Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).
The Bystander Effect in Cyberspace
The classic work of Dariey and Latante informed research that during an
emergency, the more people who witness an event, the less likely it is that an individual
will intervene (1968). According to Obermaier, Fawzi, and Koch (2014), bystanders
themselves play an important role in cyberbullying. Passive inaction may reinforce bully
behavior as it could appear as approval of the behavior or bystander support of a victim
may help to interact the harm of cyberbullying (Freis and Gurung, 2013; Kowalski,
Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattanner, 2014). Studies show that most bystanders take no
action in these situations (Obermaier et al., 2014). In a meta-analysis study conducted by
Fischer, Krueger, Greitemeyer, Kastenmuller, Vogrincic, Frey, et al. (2011), forty years
of studies showed the bystander effect to have a significant impact on decreasing the
helping behavior of groups in many types of situations. Research has also shown that in-
person bystanders are more willing to help if the situation appears to be an emergency
(Obermaier et al., 2014). Assuming this effect would transfer to a cyberbullying incident,
Obermaier tested the theory of cyberbystanders by manipulating fake conversations on
Facebook, showing varied numbers of views of the conversation (2014). Interestingly, a
comparison of two views versus 5,025 views showed no effect; however, participants
stated anecdotally that they felt less responsibility to help when there was a higher
number of bystanders. Similarly, Machackova, Dedkova, and Mezulanikovas (2015)


5
findings suggested that the bystander effect is present in cyberbullying incidents, as their
research showed when participants were one of a only a very small number of witnesses,
they offered more help.
Active defending of a victim and standing up to the bully can stop bullying
(Macklem, 2003). Offering support and sympathy for the victim, as well as dislike for the
person bullying, can aid in the victim overcoming negative emotions associated with
bullying (Limber & Kowalski, 2008). Machackova, Dedkova, Sevcikova, and Cerna
(2013) suggested that bystander behavior can be in two categories: confrontational
behavior or supportive behavior. In confrontational bystander behavior, the bystander
defends the victim directly. In supportive bystander behavior, the bystander tries to
comfort the victim, tells the victim to ignore it, or encourages them to contact someone
who can help. Some research has suggested that personality traits, such as empathy,
extraversion, and self-efficacy may increase the chance that a bystander will offer their
support during a cyberbullying incident (Freis & Gurung, 2013; Polyhonen, Juvonen, &
Salmivalli, 2010).
Cyberbystanders are often unable to estimate how many others are witness to the
abuse (Machackova et al., 2013). Consequently, a diffusion of responsibility, subsequent
to the bystander effect, may occur (Latane & Darley, 1970; Thornberg, 2007). These
cyberbystanders might imagine that there are dozens or more viewers, thus diffusing this
responsibility. Also, abusive messages have the potential to be easily spread to an even
larger audience through forwarding and sharing. In even more dynamic cases, the victim
may be excluded from the social network where the material is located. All of these
factors make it even less likely for a cyberbystander to defend the victim (Machackova et


6
al., 2013). Further, the victims emotional response may go unseen by cyberbystanders
(Heirman & Walrave, 2008; Slonje & Smith, 2008), leaving them unable to assess the
severe effect of this on the victim, decreasing empathy, and therefore the likelihood of
intervention. Empathy for the victim or disapproval of the bullying must be clearly
expressed in order for it to register (Machackova et al., 2013). On a positive note, some
of the perceived anonymity may make it easier for a cyberbystander to offer support to
the victim (Machackova et al., 2013).
What Can Be Done?
Young people gain the majority of their social knowledge and relationships
through online communication (Park, Na, & Kim, 2014), and younger and younger
children are becoming more fluent in technology; thus, there is need for prevention and
intervention programs to start early (Tangen & Campbell, 2010). Educators are dealing
with cyberbullying situations with increasing frequency (Cassidy et al., 2013). Recent
state mandates require schools to develop policies regarding bullying and cyberbullying.
Looking further into how young people develop online social norms may help to lessen
cyberbullying and other negative online behaviors (Park, Na, & Kim, 2014). Publishers
have hurried to created curricula with the intent to address these issues in the schools
(Bauman & Yoon, 2014). Unfortunately, many of these programs were developed
without a sound research base. Not surprisingly, the positive effects of the programs on
bullying and cyberbullying have been lackluster (Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, &
Hymel, 2010) and evidenced-based cyberbullying curricula are lacking.
The Social Networking Safety Promotion and Cyberbullying Prevention program
provides information to students on social media safety and cyberbullying prevention


7
(Stanbrook, 2014). This program includes a guide about the presentation designed to
foster conversation at home between youth and their parents. Research suggests that this
program has the potential to improve attitudes toward cyberbullying, to increase
understanding of how cyberbullying can cause harm, and to help teenagers recognize the
importance of keeping personal information off of social media (Wolfer et al., 2014).
Another prevention program, Media Heroes, was developed in Germany and is used in
German middle schools (Limber & Kowalski, 2008). Media Heroes educates students on
definitions, human and legal risks, protective strategies, and training in social skills such
as empathy (p. 7). The use of Media Heroes showed a significant decrease in self-
reported cyberbullying, as well as an increase in students ability to understand others
viewpoints regarding bullying.
Incorporating information about cyberbullying into existing school curricula is
another way to address cyberbullying in the schools (Donlin, 2012). Donlin also suggests
using programs developed by credible researchers and materials based on sound theory,
such as the Olweus model. Further, having students collaborate in the development of
these curricula, offering their insight and helping to foster ownership and buy-in among
other students may increase their effectiveness in decreasing cyberbullying (Cassidy &
Bates, 2005).
Parental involvement in a childs life is central to effectively combating
cyberbullying (Aboujaoude et al., 2015). Research has shown that parental involvement
was associated with significantly less bullying and victimizing (Farrington & Ttofi,
2009). Parental involvement might be as simple as openly discussing cyberbullying with
their children (Moreno, 2014).


8
Bystander intervention curricula may be another opportunity to inform teenagers
about how and when to effectively intervene in a cyberbullying situation. Bystanders
should be empowered in learning that non-bullies are actually of the majority, offering
them courage to defend bully behavior (Hinduja & Patchin, 2012b). Ahmed (2008)
discusses that some students are aware that bullying is occurring, but they do not
necessarily know how to intervene in a helpful manner and may be fearful that they
themselves may become a target. Ahmed proposed that the teaching of human rights,
mutual respect, tolerance of differences and shared responsibility is the key to the
solution. Changing school culture and norms to be more tolerant of differences could
foster an environment where students will see bullying as unethical.


9
CHAPTER III
METHOD
This research used frequency measures of teen perceptions regarding how often
teenagers believed their peers to ignore cyberbullying, how often peers defended a victim
being cyberbullied, and finally, how often they personally ignored what was going on.
This research also focused on the efficacy of conversation about cyberbullying between
teachers, parents, and teenagers in impacting the frequency of the defense of a victim.
Parental controls on a teens internet usage and the likelihood that a teenager will defend
someone being cyberbullied was also investigated. The research questions to be evaluated
were:
1. What are teens perceptions of how often the bystander effect occurs in
cyberbullying?
2. How often do teenagers believe their peers defend a victim being cyberbullied?
3. How often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents?
4. Are teens who have received advice about how to use the internet and cell phones
responsibly and safely from a teacher or another adult at school more likely to
defend a victim that is being harassed?
5. Will a teenager whose parents have talked with them about how to behave
towards other people online or on the phone be more likely to defend a victim that
is being harassed?
6. Do parental controls of a teenagers internet usage increase the likelihood that a
teenager might defend someone who is being harassed online?


10
Survey Participants
Data from the Parent/Teen Digital Citizenship Survey was used in this study.
This survey was conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International on
behalf of the Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project. Participants in the
survey consisted of 799 parents of 12-17 year olds, including an oversample of African-
American and Latino families, as well as 799 teens, ages 12-17. The interviews were
conducted in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, LLC from April 19 to July
14, 2011. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies.
A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial samples were used to represent
all teens and their parents in the continental United States who have access to either a
landline or cellular telephone.
Procedure
According to the Parent/Teen Digital Citizenship Survey, prospective survey
respondents were called as many as seven times to contact and interview a parent at every
sampled telephone number. After the parent interview, an additional seven calls were
made to interview an eligible teen. Calls were staggered over times of day and days of the
week to maximize the chance of making contact with potential respondents. Each
telephone number received at least one daytime call in an attempt to complete an
interview. For both samples, after the parent interview was completed an interview was
completed with the target child. Data was kept only if the child interview was completed.
The parent interviews were not used for this dissertation. The survey asked a variety of
questions regarding teenagers online behavior, such as, Overall, how often do you use the
internet several times a day, about once a day, 3-5 days a week, 1-2 days a week, every few
weeks, or less often (Pew Research Centers Internet & American Life Project, 2011, pg.


11
21)? along with many other questions related to perceptions of social media. The survey
questions used specifically for this study were: When people act mean or cruel on social
networking sites, how often have you seen other people just ignore what is going on
(2011, pg. 28)?, When people act mean or cruel on social networking sites, how often
have you seen other people defend the victim who is being harassed (2011, pg. 28)?,
And how about you? How often have you just ignored what is going on (2011, pg. 28)?
Analyses
Research Questions Part 1.
Frequency analyses were completed to examine the questions below regarding
teenagers perceptions of the bystander effect, as well as the role they play in the
phenomenon.
Research Questions Part 2.
The data related to the additional research questions are ordinal; and therefore, do
not meet the assumptions of normal distribution necessary for an independent samples t-
test. Consequently, the Mann-Whitney U test, a nonparametric test statistic was used.
This statistical test allows for the comparison of differences between two independent
groups when the dependent variable is either ordinal or continuous, but not normally
distributed.


12
CHAPTER IV
RESULTS
Analyses
Research Questions Part 1
1. What are teens perceptions of how often the bystander effect occurs in
cyberbullying?
Frequency counts indicate that teenagers rated that other people frequently ignore
when others act mean or cruel on social networking sites 39.7% most of the time, 17.4%
sometimes ignore, 7.5% ignore only once in a while, and 4.1% never ignore. These
results are presented in Figure 1.
When people act mean or cruel on social networking sites, how often have you
seen other people Just ignore what is going on?
When people act mean or cruel on social networking sites, how often have
you seen other people Just ignore what is going on?
Figure 1: Teen Perception of the Cyberbystander Effect


13
2. How often do teenagers believe their peers defend a victim being cyberbullied?
Results indicate that teenagers rated that others defend a cyberbullying victim on
social networking sites frequently; 17.9% of the time, sometimes; 22.4% of the time, only
once in awhile; 17.9% of the time, and never; 10.6% of the time (see Figure 2).
When people act mean or cruel on social networking sites, how often have you
seen other people Defend the victim who is being harassed?
When people act mean or cruel on social networking sites, how often have
you seen other people Defend the victim who is being harassed?
Figure 2: Teen Perception of Defense of a Victim


14
3. How often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents?
As noted in Figure 3, when asked how often they personally ignore what is going on,
24.7% of the teens surveyed stated frequently, 24.4% stated sometimes, 13% stated only
once in awhile, and 6.6% stated never (see Figure 3).
And how about you? How often have you Just ignored what is going on?
And how about you? How often have you Just ignored what is going on?
Figure 3: Teenage Perceptions of their own Cyberbystander Behavior
Research Questions Part 2
A Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to evaluate if teenagers who received
advice about how to use the internet and cell phones responsibly and safely from a
teacher or another adult at school would be more likely to defend someone being
harassed online. No significant differences were observed between those who had
received advice regarding responsible technology use and those who had not. A Mann-
Whitney U test was also conducted to determine whether a teenager was more likely to
defend someone being harassed based on whether or not their parents had talked with
them about how to behave online. No significant differences were observed. Finally, a
Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine whether the implementation of parental


15
controls on a teens internet use would increase the likelihood of the teenager defending
someone being harassed online. The results were not significant indicating that parental
controls of internet usage do not increase the likelihood that a teenager will defend
someone being cyberbullied.


16
CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION
The complexities of cyberbullying and the bystander effect will take time to be
fully understood. A future solution relies on an understood social code of conduct that
fosters respect and decency towards our fellow human beings, regardless of anonymity.
As we know, the bystander effect can lead to very dangerous situations in which
behaviors are ignored that should not be. Unfortunately, in cyberbullying situations, these
behaviors are often hidden from adults. Teenagers often have a far better understanding
of technology than many adults, thus they hold freedom in their online interactions that
they may not be socially or emotionally equipped enough to handle. The present study
was intended to develop a baseline understanding of how teenagers perceive their peers,
as well as themselves, to behave in cyberbullying situations. Frequency analyses showed
that teenagers believe their peers ignore cyberbullying the majority of the time, with
almost 80% reporting they believe their peers their peers to do this frequently or
sometimes. About half of the teenage participants in the present study reported that they
frequently or sometimes defended a victim of cyberbullying. These findings, especially
that teens believe their peers to ignore cyberbullying the majority of the time, are
startling. This result may be related to teenagers lacking the knowledge regarding the
bystander effect and its stronghold in the context of cyberbullying. Education regarding
this effect may empower them to intervene in more situations. This research also aimed
to determine if informal parental and/or educator advice regarding safe online and cell
phone behavior, in addition to internet parental controls, may have a significant effect on
the likelihood that a teen would defend a cyberbullying victim. Results indicate that there


17
were no significant effects in this regard. Though some research has shown that parental
involvement was associated with significantly less bullying and victimizing (Farrington
& Ttofi, 2009), this research looked at the impact of parental advice on the bystander
effect, specifically. While parental involvement may have an effect on their child being
less involved in a bullying or victimizing situation, it may not make them more likely to
intervene in a cyberbullying incident.
Cyberbystander intervention and prevention in the schools is also tricky. While it
would be ideal for all children to receive evidence-based cyberbullying curriculum with
fidelity, this is currently unlikely for a couple of reasons. First of all, evidence-based
cyberbullying curricula have yet to be established. Second, public education is notorious
for the inability to implement social-emotional related curricula with fidelity due to
overworked teachers and service providers in the schools. Third, evidence-based
curricula can be expensive and not of highest fiscal priority for many school districts.
Implications and Future Directions
Stanbrook (2014) calls upon the media to play a more constructive role in
confronting cyberbullying, raising awareness of acute cyberbullying that is prevalent
among a much larger number of students, as opposed to only highlighting severe cases
that have led to suicide. In addition, it is recommended that when cyberbullying incidents
are reported in the media, adults talk about the bystander effect with children and
teenagers and encourage them to reflect on what they might do in a similar cyberbullying
situation (Machackova et al., 2014).
What do teenagers think may help lessen cyberbullying? The National Crime
Prevention Council conducted research that found teenagers perceived less effective


18
strategies as, ...all schools should have rules against cyberbullying; schools should
educate students in small groups not to cyberbully, hold school assemblies to educate
students not to cyberbully, and teach adults to help young people not to cyberbully,
(Moessner, 2007, p. 4). It is interesting to note that these ideas were all strategies in
which adults told them not to cyberbully (Kraft & Wang, 2009). Teens perceived the
most effective strategies to be blocking people online who bully, refusing to pass along
cyberbullying messages, and online groups having moderators who block offensive
messages, (Moessner, 2007, p. 4). The decision to block those who cyberbully, as well
as pass or not pass along cyberbullying messages is conceivably the responsibility of the
teens themselves. It appears that instead of being told the rules for cyberbullying,
teenagers may want to develop their own ethical standard of what online communication
should look like.
It would be beneficial for future research to establish the effectiveness of various
cyberbullying curricula, though it may take considerably more time for the research and
development of these programs. It would also be helpful to look further into the
possibility of middle ground between advice and full curricula to help aid teenagers in
understanding cyberbullying, the bystander effect, and how to intervene. This research
only evaluated parental advice regarding responsible online and cell phone behavior and
did not look at effects of discussions regarding the cyberbystander effect. The more
education on the cyberbystander effect, the easier it will be for teenagers to recognize its
occurrence and take action. Results of this study are expected to contribute to the
literature on the cyberbystander effect, and hopefully aid in the development of
prevention programs.


19
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Full Text

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THE CYBERBYSTANDER EFFECT: THE IMPACT OF ADULT ADVICE ON CYBERBULLYING BYSTANDERS by RACHAEL BAKER B.A. Florida Gulf Coast University, 2008 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School Psychology Program 2016

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ii This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Rachael Baker has been approved for the School Psychology Program by Franci Crepeau Hobson Chair Bryn Harris Colette Hohnbaum March, 26 2016

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iii Baker, Rachael (PsyD, School Psychology) The Cyberbystander Effect: The Impact of Adult Advice on Cyberbullying Bystanders Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau Hobson ABSTRACT The prevalence of the bystander effect in incidents of interpersonal violence and its propensity to cause p assive inaction ha ve been well researched. However, the bystander effect in cyberbullying incidents is less understood due to the complex nature by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The purpose of the study was twofold : first, to determine a baseline for teenager perceptions regarding the cyberbystander effect ; and second to determine whether parental or teacher advice regard ing safe and responsible online and cell phone behavior, as well as internet parental controls would make it more likely for a teenager to overcome the cyberbystander effect and defend a victim of cyberbullying. Results indicate that teens believe their pe ers ignore cyberbullying 57% of the time these incidents occur. No significant effects related to victim defending and advice about online/cell phone behavior or parental controls were observed Further research is needed to identify evidence based curricu la for cyberbullying in addition to increased education of the cyberbystander effect and how to effectively intervene. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Franci Crepeau Hobson

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................. .. ...1 Purpose of the Study................................................................................. ........ .1 II. LITERATURE REVIEW.................................................................................... . 2 Bullying in the Digital Age....................................................................... ....... 2 The Bystander Effect in Cyberspace.................. .............................. .......... ....... 3 What Can Be Done?........................................................................ ........ ..... . 5 III. METHOD......................................................................................................... .......8 Survey Parti cipants.............. ................................................................... ....... ....9 Procedure.............. .................................................................................. .... .. ....9 Analyses................................................................................................ ..... .....10 Research Questions Part 1.......... ......... ................. ................ ......... 1 1 Research Questions Part 2................................. ..... ........... .......... ..1 1 IV. RESULTS......................................................................................................... ....1 1 Analyses..........................................................................................................11 Research Questions Part 1.............................................................1 1 Research Questions Part 2......................... ....................................1 3 V. DISCUSSION................................................................................................. ...... 15 Implications and Future Directions REFERENCES................................................................................................. ............. .... 18

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v LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1: 12 2: Teen Perception of Defense of a ... 3 3: Teenage Perceptions of their own Cyberbystander Behavior

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION A pioneer in bullying research, Dan Olweus, stated that the past 15 years have brought a large increase of knowledge to the bully/victim relationship and its many facets (2013). Bullying has also received increased attention from schools, the media, and policymakers. In 2006, National Bullying Prevention Awaren ess Week, was created by the National Center for Bullying Prevention and has evolved into National Bullying Prevention Month every October. As of April 2015, all 50 states now have an anti bullying law making it illegal (Tempkin, 2015). The digital age has ushered in new opportunities for human interaction, creating a new vehicle for harassment that is available to anyone with internet access or a mobile int entional act carried out by a group or individual, using mobile phones or the internet, (Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, Fisher, Russell, & Tippett, 2008, p. 176). The Center for Disease control and Prevention (2014) has already determined cyberbullying to be a serious threat to public health. Cyberbullying has also gained international attention and has been studied by researchers across the globe (Cassidy, Faucher, & Jackson, 201 3). The arrival of cyberbullying has been associated with the accelerated increase of (Cassidy et al., 2013, p. 576). Our modern day lives, and especially the lives of young peopl e, are centered around ICT. Prensky (2001) refers to the younger generation fluent

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2 gap in understanding these technologies is far reaching (p. 1 2). Though many you ng people can easily navigate the online world, not all are so technologically inclined (Cassidy et al., 2013). There are innumerable benefits to these technological advances such as access to endless educational information (e.g., research for this very dissertation), the development and maintenance of relationships can be facilitated with social networking sites, as well as infinite opportunities for discovery and creativity (Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston, 2012a; Livingstone & Haddon, 2009). Yet, with any uncharted territory there is danger in the unknown. Even though some young people may understand how to use technology at a more advanced level than adults, they are not necessarily any more proficient in navigating difficult online situations (Cassidy et al., 2013). Purpose of the Study perceptions regarding how often the bystander effect occ urs in cyberbullying. For instance, how often do teenagers believe their peers would defend a victim being cyberbullied? And, how often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents? In addition, how might simple, open, and honest conversations ab out cyberbullying between teachers, parents, and teenagers have an impact? Could this informal communication with situation? ternet usage? This research aims to answer these questions.

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3 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Bullying in the Digital Age Cyberbullying and in person bullying both tend to begin during adolescence, are aggressive in nature, involve a power differential, and they occur within peer groups (Park, Na, & Kim, 2014). Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between the likelihood that someone will behave negatively both online and off (Selwyn, 2008) indicating that those who bully in person are more likely to bully online (and vice versa). However, Bauman and Yoon (2014) stated that cyberbullying is uniquely different f rom traditional bullying in a number of ways. Specifically, cyberbullying is inherently anonymous, which can affect inhibition; it can occur anytime and anywhere; it involves no nonverbal communication; the size of the audience is virtually limitless; and the content is typically on the internet permanently. These factors give cyberbullying the propensity to inflict even more damage than in person bullying. Also, the more tech savvy an individual, as well as the amount of technology they use, the higher the ir risk of getting involved in a cyberbullying incident (Leung & Lee, 2012). Suicides due to cyberbullying have received exorbitant attention from the media; however, suicide is not the most likely outcome for its victims (Cassidy, Faucher, & Jackson, 2013 ) though research does show that the relationship between cyberbullying and suicidal thoughts is relatively strong ( Aboujaoude, Savage, Starcevic, & Salame, 2015) Wlfer et al. (2014) reported that depending on the length and severity that cyberbullying occurs, outcomes may include academic problems (Beran and Li, 2007), psychosocial difficulties (Juvoven & Gross, 2008), somatic symptoms (Gradinger,

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4 Strohmeier, & Spiel, 2009), depression (Wang, Nansel, & Iannotti, 2011), externalizing problems (Schultze K problems (Sinclair, Bauman, Poteat, Koenig, & Russell, 2012), and suicidal ideation (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). The Bystander Effect in Cyberspace The classic work of Da emergency, the more people who witness an event, the less likely it is that an individual will intervene (1968). According to Obermaier, Fawzi, and Koch (2014), bystanders themselves play an important role in cyberbullying. Passive inaction may reinforce bully behavior as it could appear as approval of the behavior or bystander support of a victim may help to interact the harm of cyberbullying (Freis and Gurung, 2013; Kowalski, Giumetti, Schroeder, & Lattan ner, 2014). Studies show that most bystanders take no action in these situations ( Obermaier et al. of studies showed the bystander effect to have a significant impact on decreasing the helping behavior of groups in many types of situations. Research has also shown that in person bystanders are more willing to help if the situation appears to be an emergency ( Obermaier et al 2014). Assuming this effect would transfer to a cyberbullying incident, Obermaier tested the theory of cyberbystanders by manipulating fake conversations on Facebook, showing varied numbers of views of the conversation (2014). Interestingly, a compariso n of two views versus 5,025 views showed no effect; however, participants stated anecdotally that they felt less responsibility to help when there was a higher

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5 findings suggest ed that the bystander effect is present in cyberbullying incidents, as their research showed when participants were one of a only a very small number of witnesses, they offered more help. Active defending of a victim and standing up to the bully can stop b ullying (Macklem, 2003). Offering support and sympathy for the victim, as well as dislike for the person bullying, can aid in the victim overcoming negative emotions associated with rna (2013) suggested that bystander behavior can be in two categories: confrontational behavior or supportive behavior. In confrontational bystander behavior, the bystander defends the victim directly. In supportive bystander behavior, the bystander tries to comfort the victim, tells the victim to ignore it, or encourages them to contact someone who can help. Some research has suggested that personality traits, such as empathy, extraversion, and self efficacy may increase the chance that a bystander will of fer their support during a cyberbullying incident (Freis & Gurung, 2013; Polyhonen, Juvonen, & Salmivalli, 2010). Cyberbystanders are often unable to estimate how many others are witness to the responsibility, subsequent to the bystander effect, may occur (Latan & Darley, 1970; Thornberg, 2007). These cyberbystanders might imagine that there are dozens or more viewers, thus diffusing this responsibility. Also, abusive messages have the potentia l to be easily spread to an even larger audience through forwarding and sharing. In even more dynamic cases, the victim may be excluded from the social network where the material is located. All of these factors make it even less likely for a cyberbystande

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6 (Heirman & Walrave, 2008; Slonje & Smith, 2008), leaving them unable to assess the severe effect of this on the victim, decreasing e mpathy, and therefore the likelihood of intervention. Empathy for the victim or disapproval of the bullying must be clearly of the perceived anonymity may make it eas ier for a cyberbystander to offer support to What Can Be Done? Young people gain the majority of their social knowledge and relationships through online communication (Park, Na, & Kim, 2014), and younger and younger ch ildren are becoming more fluent in technology; thus, there is need for prevention and intervention programs to start early (Tangen & Campbell, 2010). Educators are dealing with cyberbullying situations with increasing frequency (Cassidy et al., 2013). Rece nt state mandates require schools to develop policies regarding bullying and cyberbullying. Looking further into how young people develop online social norms may help to lessen cyberbullying and other negative online behaviors (Park, Na, & Kim, 2014). Publishers have hurried to created curricula with the intent to address these issues in the schools ( Bauman & Yoon, 2014) Unfortunately, many of these programs were developed without a sound research base. Not surprisingly, the positive effects of the pro grams on bullying and cyberbullying have been lackluster (Swearer, Espelage, Vaillancourt, & Hymel, 2010) and evidenced based cyberbullying curricula are lacking. The Social Networking Safety Promotion and Cyberbullying Prevention program provides informat ion to students on social media safety and cyberbullying prevention

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7 (Stanbrook, 2014). This program includes a guide about the presentation designed to foster conversation at home between youth and their parents. Research suggests that this program has the potential to improve attitudes toward cyberbullying, to increase understanding of how cyberbullying can cause harm, and to help teenagers recognize the importance of keeping personal information off of social media ( Wlfer et al., 2014). Another preventio n program, Media Heroes, was developed in Germany and is used in German middle schools (Limber & Kowalski, 2008). Media Heroes educates students on p. 7). The use of Media Heroes showed a significant decrease in self viewpoints regarding bullying. Incorporating information about cyberbullying into existing school curricula is another way to address cyberbullying in the schools (Donlin, 2012). Donlin also suggests using programs developed by credible researchers and materials based on sound theory, such as the Olweus model. Further, having students collaborate in t he development of these curricula, offering their insight and helping to foster ownership and buy in among other students may increase their effectiveness in decreasing cyberbullying (Cassidy & Bates, 2005). al to effectively combating cyberbullying ( Aboujaoude et al., 2015) Research has shown that parental involvement was associated with significantly less bullying and victimizing (Farrington & Ttofi, 2009). Parental involvement might be as simple as openly discussing cyberbullying with their children (Moreno, 2014).

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8 Bystander intervention curricula may be another opportunity to inform teenagers about how and when to effectively intervene in a cyberbullying situation. Bystanders should be empowered in learni ng that non bullies are actually of the majority, offering them courage to defend bully behavior (Hinduja & Patchin, 2012b). Ahmed (2008) discusses that some students are aware that bullying is occurring, but they do not necessarily know how to intervene i n a helpful manner and may be fearful that they themselves may become a target. Ahmed proposed that the teaching of human rights, mutual respect, tolerance of differences and shared responsibility is the key to the solution. Changing school culture and nor ms to be more tolerant of differences could foster an environment where students will see bullying as unethical.

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9 CHAPTER III METHOD This research used frequency measures of teen perceptions regarding how often teenagers believed their peers to ignore cyberbullying, how often peers defended a victim being cyberbullied, and finally, how often they personally ignored what was going on. Th is research also focused on the efficacy of conversation about cyberbullying between teachers, parents, and teenagers in impacting the frequency of the defense of a victim l defend someone being cyberbullied was also investigated. The research questions to be evaluated were: 1. cyberbullying? 2. How often do teenagers believe their peers defend a victim being cyberbullied? 3. How often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents? 4. Are teens who have received advice about how to use the internet and cell phones responsibly and safely from a teacher or another adult at school more likely to defend a vic tim that is being harassed? 5. Will a teenager whose parents have talked with them about how to behave towards other people online or on the phone be more likely to defend a victim that is being harassed? 6. crease the likelihood that a teenager might defend someone who is being harassed online?

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10 Survey Participants This survey was conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associa tes International on survey consisted of 799 parents of 12 17 year olds, including an oversample of African American and Latino families, as well as 799 teens, ages 1 2 17. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, LLC from April 19 to July 14, 2011. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial samples were used to represent all teens and their parents in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. Procedure respondents were called as many as seven times to contact and interview a parent at every sampled telephone number. After the parent interview, an additional seven calls were made to interview an eligible teen. Calls were staggered over times of day and days of the we ek to maximize the chance of making contact with potential respondents. Each telephone number received at least one daytime call in an attempt to complete an interview. For both samples, after the parent interview was completed an interview was completed w ith the target child. Data was kept only if the child interview was completed. The parent interviews were not used for this dissertation. The survey asked a variety of Overall, how often do you use the internet several times a day, about once a day, 3 5 days a week, 1 2 days a week, every few weeks, or less often ( pg.

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11 The survey networking sites, how often have you seen other people just ignore what is go ing on Analyses Research Questions Part 1. Frequency analyses were completed to examine the questions below regarding phenomenon. Research Questions Part 2. The data re lated to the additional research questions are ordinal; and therefore, do not meet the assumptions of normal distribution necessary for an independent samples t test. Consequently, the Mann Whitney U test, a nonparametric test statistic was used. This stat istical test allows for the comparison of differences between two independent groups when the dependent variable is either ordinal or continuous, but not normally distributed.

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12 CHAPTER IV RESULTS Analyses Research Questions Part 1 1. cyberbullying? when others act mean or cruel on social networking sites 39.7% most of the time, 17.4% sometimes ignore, 7.5% ignore only once in a while, and 4.1% never ignore. These results are presented in Figure 1. Figure 1: Teen Perception of the Cyberbystander Effect

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13 2. How often do teenagers believe their peers defend a victim being cyberbu llied? Results indicate that teenagers rated that others defend a cyberbullying victim on social networking sites frequently; 17.9% of the time, sometimes; 22.4% of the time, only once in awhile; 17.9% of the time, and never; 10.6% of the time (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Teen Perception of Defense of a Victim

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14 3. How often do teenagers personally ignore cyberbullying incidents? As noted in Figure 3, when asked how often they personally ignore what is going on, 24.7% of the teens surveyed stated frequently, 24.4% stated sometimes, 13% stated only once in awhile, and 6.6% stated never (see Figure 3). Figure 3: Teenage Perceptions of their own Cyberbystander Behavior Research Questions Part 2 A Mann Whitney U test was conducted to evaluate if teenagers who received advice about how to use the internet and cell phones responsibly and safely from a teacher or another adult at school would be more likely to defend someone being harassed online. No significant differences were observed between those who had received advice regarding responsible technology use and those who had not. A Mann Whitney U test was also conducted to determine whether a teenager was more likely to defend someone being harassed based on whether or not their parents had talked with them about how to behave online. No significant differences were observed. Finally, a Mann Whitney U test was used to determ ine whether the implementation of parental

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15 someone being harassed online. The results were not significant indicating that parental controls of internet usage do not increase the likelihood that a teenager will defend someone being cyberbullied.

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16 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION The complexities of cyberbullying and the bystander effect will take time to be fully understood. A future solution relies on an understood social code of conduct that fosters respect and decency towards our fellow human beings, regardless of anonymity. As we know, the bystander effect can lead to very dangerous situations in which behaviors are ignored that should not be. Unfortunately, in cyberbullying situations, these behaviors are often hidden from adults. Teenagers often have a far better understandin g of technology than many adults, thus they hold freedom in their online interactions that they may not be socially or emotionally equipped enough to handle. The present study was intended to develop a baseline understanding of how teenagers perceive their peers, as well as themselves, to behave in cyberbullying situations. Frequency analyses showed that teenagers believe their peers ignore cyberbullying the majority of the time, with almost 80% reporting they believe their peers their peers to do this freq uently or sometimes. About half of the teenage participants in the present study reported that they frequently or sometimes defended a victim of cyberbullying. These findings, especially that teens believe their peers to ignore cyberbullying the majority o f the time, are startling. This result may be related to teenagers lacking the knowledge regarding the bystander effect and its stronghold in the context of cyberbullying. Education regarding this effect may empower them to intervene in more situations. Th is research also aimed to determine if informal parental and/or educator advice regarding safe online and cell phone behavior, in addition to internet parental controls, may have a significant effect on the likelihood that a teen would defend a cyberbullyi ng victim. Results indicate that there

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17 were no significant effects in this regard. Though some research has shown that parental involvement was associated with significantly less bullying and victimizing (Farrington & Ttofi, 2009), this research looked at the impact of parental advice on the bystander effect, specifically. While parental involvement may have an effect on their child being less involved in a bullying or victimizing situation, it may not make them more likely to intervene in a cyberbullying i ncident. Cyberbystander intervention and prevention in the schools is also tricky. While it would be ideal for all children to receive evidence based cyberbullying curriculum with fidelity, this is currently unlikely for a couple of reasons. First of all, evidence based cyberbullying curricula have yet to be established. Second, public education is notorious for the inability to implement social emotional related curricula with fidelity due to overworked teachers and service providers in the schools. Third, evidence based curricula can be expensive and not of highest fiscal priority for many school districts. Implications and Future Directions Stanbrook (2014) calls upon the media to play a more constructive role in confronting cyberbullying, raising awaren ess of acute cyberbullying that is prevalent among a much larger number of students, as opposed to only highlighting severe cases that have led to suicide. In addition, it is recommended that when cyberbullying incidents are reported in the media, adults t alk about the bystander effect with children and teenagers and encourage them to reflect on what they might do in a similar cyberbullying What do teenagers think may help lessen cyberbullying? The National Crime Preven tion Council conducted research that found teenagers perceived less effective

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18 educate students in small groups not to cyberbully, hold school assemblies to educate stude (Moessner, 2007, p. 4). It is interesting to note that these ideas were all strategies in which adults told them not to cyberbully (Kraft & Wang, 2009). Teens perceived the mo cyberbullying messages, and online groups having moderators who block offensive a s pass or not pass along cyberbullying messages is conceivably the responsibility of the teens themselves. It appears that instead of being told the rules for cyberbullying, teenagers may want to develop their own ethical standard of what online communicat ion should look like. It would be beneficial for future research to establish the effectiveness of various cyberbullying curricula, though it may take considerably more time for the research and development of these programs. It would also be helpful to lo ok further into the possibility of middle ground between advice and full curricula to help aid teenagers in understanding cyberbullying, the bystander effect, and how to intervene. This research only evaluated parental advice regarding responsible online a nd cell phone behavior and did not look at effects of discussions regarding the cyberbystander effect. The more education on the cyberbystander effect, the easier it will be for teenagers to recognize its occurrence and take action. Results of this study a re expected to contribute to the literature on the cyberbystander effect, and hopefully aid in the development of prevention programs.

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