Study of the Problem of Cyberbullying

Research Design

The research will be conducted using the correlational survey model, a quantitative research method aimed to determine the extent of a relationship between several variables using statistical data. Its purpose will be to establish patterns connecting demographic, social, and psychological factors and cyberbullying behavior among adolescents. This method was chosen because it makes it possible to easily determine links between variables and the strength of their relationships and create a basis for a further behavior assessment.

The data for the research will be collected using an anonymous online questionnaire, and the results will be processed and interpreted using quantitative research techniques, description analysis, and correlation analysis tools. The questionnaire was selected as the data collection method because it is a quick, cheap, and efficient way of obtaining information from a large sample of people. Due to the sensitive nature of the research, anonymity will be used to ensure that the respondents give honest answers.

Participants

The population of interest is high-school students between 14 and 18 years of age. This age group was selected because cyberbullying is becoming increasingly widespread, especially among adolescents (Peled, 2019). According to a study conducted in six European countries among children from 14 to 17 years of age, 21.4% of participants reported cyber victimization (Akar, 2017). These findings call for further detailed research on the reasons behind the behavior in this age group.

The questionnaire will be distributed online among the students of three schools via these schools’ Facebook groups, with students being invited to participate voluntarily and anonymously. No specific requirements are made regarding their gender, ethnicity, and other characteristics apart from age. The desired sampling size is 150 respondents, but it might be adjusted upward or downward based on the actual number of survey responses received.

Measures

The questionnaire will be divided into four parts, each focusing on different characteristics and factors of influence. The independent variables are the age, background, and social status of the respondents, and the dependent variables include their engagement in cyberbullying and social and psychological factors that influence their social media behavior. Each part of the survey will be processed independently, and then the correlational analysis will be conducted to determine the relationship between the variables.

  • The first section will cover independent variables, which are the participants’ demographic characteristics, including age, gender, and background, measured quantitatively.
  • The second section will be devoted to determining the patterns of respondents’ social media behavior in relation to cyberbullying. The received quantitative data will be analyzed against the independent variables.
  • The third section will include questions on social variables, including academic performance, relationships with peers, and engagement in extracurricular activities. The correlational analysis will be used to determine the relations between these variables and the data obtained during the analysis of the first two sections.
  • The fourth section will include questions aimed to identify psychological reasons behind bullying, and the results will be analyzed descriptively and then compared to other data.

Procedures

The invitation to participate in the survey will be distributed through each school’s Facebook group by agreement with the school’s management and Facebook group admins. Survey responses will be collected using the online form and analyzed with the relevant software. In order to protect students’ anonymity, a waiver of parental consent will be obtained for the research. According to Flowers et al. (2020), parental content significantly limits the researcher’s ability to gather anonymous data and negatively affects the quality of responses. With a waiver of parental consent, the participants will only need to provide their own consent to the research.

The selected research method requires an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. It will be obtained in accordance with the standard procedure, which includes completing the Mandatory Online Certification for Researchers and the Research Project Application and preparing the Informed Consent Document (“Institutional Review Board,” 2018). An Informed Consent Document will be provided to participants prior to the research, explaining the purpose of the study and promising to protect their identity.

Discussion

The main question that the proposed research aims to address is to identify the underlying causes of cyberbullying among adolescents. The hypothesis is that negative social, demographic, and psychological factors provoke cyberbullying behavior. The results are expected to show that children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have difficulties maintaining positive relationships with peers, and experience psychological problems are more likely to engage in cyberbullying.

The study intends to contribute to the discussion of the topic and advance the understanding of the underlying causes of cyberbullying among children. Cyberbullying is an increasingly widespread form of harassment that is considered an especially serious health issue among adolescents that can lead to the development of psychological disorders (Peled, 2019). An understanding of its underlying causes is required to develop effective prevention strategies.

The main strengths of the proposed study are the approach to the problem and the survey method. The study will be conducted using an anonymous online questionnaire, which, according to Flowers et al. (2020), “might reflect more honest reporting and be higher correlated with measures of actual behavior” (p. 3). The focus of the research will be placed on bullies rather than their victims, which is expected to offer a new perspective on the problem. The main limitations are connected with the inability to verify the demographic information and the possibility of inaccurate self-report data.

Future research on the topic may be focused on a deeper analysis of the underlying causes of cyberbullying in adolescents and the development of strategies to address the problem. With the main factors being identified in the proposed research, further studies may examine each type of factor to better understand their role in the issue. In order to develop effective prevention strategies, cyberbullying needs to be studied as embedded in a larger social context.

References

Akar, F. (2017). School psychological counselors’ opinions about causes & consequences of cyberbullying & preventive policies at schools. In Vopava, J. et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of AC 2017 (pp. 445–459). MAC Prague Consulting.

Flowers, J., Marr, D., & McCleary, D. (2020). Bullying prevalence: An online survey of adolescents. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 1–14.

Institutional Review Board. (2018). Bellevue College.

Peled, Y. (2019). Cyberbullying and its influence on the academic, social, and emotional development of undergraduate students. Heliyon, 5(3), e01393.