Cyberbullying via Mobile Phones Most Upsetting
As children are online 24/7 via their mobile phones, the question arises whether bullying becomes more upsetting and distressing when it takes place via these mobile devices. A study in Cyberpsychology, the Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, shows that children (9- to 16-year olds) who are cyberbullied via their mobile phone, experience more harm from being bullied than those who are bullied via more stationary devices, such as their computer or notebook. It turns out that social media play a big role in these feelings of distress.
- Children and teens who are cyberbullied via their mobile phone experience more harm from being bullied than those who are bullied via other devices (e.g., desktop computer, notebook).
- This is due to the bullying experiences on (mobile) social network sites and instant messaging.
- The chance to be bullied via mobile phones increases with age and with mobile internet use.
- Prevention programs and campaigns should pay extra attention to cyberbullying via mobile devices, especially because of the distressing character.
Do children who have been bullied via mobile devices experience more harm from it than those who have been bullied via other devices?
1,300 9- to 16-year olds from 25 European countries (mean age: 13 years old; 59% were girls)
25 different European countries
The researchers interviewed the children at their homes, and conducted the questionnaire collectively, however, ‘sensitive’ questions were filled out privately. Children were asked whether they were being teased in a way they did not like, hit, kicked, pushed around, or left out of things (i.e., bullied) in the past 12 months. All children who indicated being bullied online were taken into the sample (N = 1,300). They also had to indicate if the cyberbullying happened ‘on-the-go’ (i.e., via their mobile phone) or ‘elsewhere online’ (i.e., via other more stationary devices).
Facts and findings
- Children who were cyberbullied ‘on-the-go’ experienced more harm from being bullied than those who were bullied via stationary devices (e.g., computer, laptop).
- This appeared to be due to the bullying experiences on social network sites (SNS) and instant messaging (IM): children felt more distressed about bullying via SNS and IM.
- Children who primarily used their mobile devices (e.g., mobile phone, IPod etc.) to go online, were more likely to be cyberbullied on-the-go.
- Girls, older, and sensation seeking (i.e., adventurous) children, were more likely to be bullied on-the-go as well.
- Remarkable fact: On average, bullying on-the-go occurred more often in Sweden, but less often in Bulgaria and Denmark.
- Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (e.g., cyberbullying on-the-go) and effect (e.g., harm from being bullied). The results only show that being bullied on-the-go is associated with harm and distress.