Which kids will be bullied online? Which kids will become the bullies? According to this study, it all comes down to why they log into social media.
Researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Iowa examined data from 340 teens in a national survey. The teens had been asked about their social media habits, including why they use social media, if they’d ever been bullied online, or if they had ever bullied anyone else online.
The results were very interesting: the bullies and their victims were using social media for slightly different reasons. The bullies used social media for romantic relationships and social comparisons, but they were less likely to log on for information or entertainment. Their victims also used social media for romance and social comparison, but they were more likely than the bullies to use social media to have a community or place they belonged.
This study highlights two important lessons for parents. First, online dating is now a completely redundant term– teens are starting, developing, and ending their romantic relationships online as often as not, and all teen romances now have a digital component. Some relationships even take place entirely through smartphones. If your teenage daughter isn’t driving off to the movies every Friday night with a boyfriend, it does not preclude the possibility that she’s seeing someone.
Perhaps more significantly, however, is that there is overlap between the motivations between the cyberbullies and the cyberbullied. This makes perfect sense for the simple reason that they are often the same people. What too many people don’t realize about emotional pain is that it’s essentially a game of hot potato– hurting people hurt people. When people don’t cope with emotional pain, it explodes out of them. Give a hurting teen a smartphone and the illusion of anonymity, and the temptation is too much to handle.
You can read the study by clicking here.
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