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J Youth Adolesc. 2016 Sep;45(9):1931-45. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0552-9. Epub 2016 Jul 29.

The Role of Online Communication in Long-Term Cyberbullying Involvement Among Girls and Boys.

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Department of Children and Child Care, Deutsches Jugendinstitut e.V. (German Youth Institute), Nockherstraße 2, 81541, Munich, Germany.
Department of Communication, University of Münster, Bispinghof 9-14, 48143, Münster, Germany.


Digital media, especially mobile communication technologies, enable adolescents to explore and experiment with each other with only limited adult control. Conflicts between peers can be easily staged since nearly everybody can be reached at any time under the radar of authorities. Therefore, involvement in conflicts and bullying might depend on how adolescents use and behave online. In the present study, we provide a comprehensive picture of the role aspects of online communication play in long-term involvement in cyberbullying. We focused on a gender-specific perspective, as girls and boys were found to differ not only according to their online communication but also in their cyberbullying involvement. Using a two-wave panel survey of 1817 adolescents between 13 and 17 years (56 % female), we found that girls' cyberbullying involvement (perpetration and victimization) could be traced back to more intensive online social activities and a higher amount of online contact with strangers. In contrast, for boys, only higher exposure to antisocial media content predicted higher levels of victimization over time. The findings indicate that certain patterns of online communication increase the cyberbullying risk over time. However, it needs to be noted that these risk factors vary between girls and boys.


Adolescence; Cyberbullying; Online communication; Online risk behavior; Panel survey

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