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Body Image. 2014 Sep;11(4):527-33. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.08.006. Epub 2014 Sep 3.

Appearance-related cyberbullying: a qualitative investigation of characteristics, content, reasons, and effects.

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Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


The aim of this study was to explore 15-year-old adolescents' experiences of appearance-related cyberbullying. Twenty-seven adolescents participated in four focus groups. The adolescents in this study perceived that it is common to be targeted in appearance-related cyberbullying, especially for girls, and that appearance-related cyberbullying is considered to be a potent strategy when attempting to hurt girls. Girls often received comments about being fat, while among boys, it was common to receive comments about looking or seeming "gay." According to the adolescents, an important reason for engaging in appearance-related cyberbullying was to attain higher social status in the peer group. The girls and boys reacted differently to appearance-related cyberbullying. Boys tended to act out or take no offence, while girls experienced lower self-esteem and feelings of depression. Findings in this study contribute to research on cyberbullying as well as to research on girls' body esteem development.


Appearance-related cyberbullying; Body esteem; Gender differences; Social networking sites

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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