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Societies 2014, 4(4), 549-560; doi:10.3390/soc4040549

Characterizing Cyberbullying among College Students: Hacking, Dirty Laundry, and Mocking

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53792, USA
2
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53713, USA
3
Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
4
Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 August 2014 / Revised: 5 October 2014 / Accepted: 20 October 2014 / Published: 22 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberbullying: Where Are We Now? A Cross-National Understanding)
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Abstract

Bullying behaviors occur across the lifespan and have increasingly migrated to online platforms where they are known as cyberbullying. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of cyberbullying among college students. Participants were recruited for focus groups through purposeful sampling, including recruitment from groups traditionally at risk for bullying. Focus groups discussed views and perceptions of cyberbullying on campuses. Groups were led by a trained facilitator and were audio recorded and manually transcribed. The constant comparative approach was used to identify themes and representative quotations. The 42 participants had an average age of 19.2 (SD = 1.2), 55% were female, 83% were Caucasian. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) lack of agreement on a definition of cyberbullying, but consensus on three representative scenarios: hacking, dirty laundry and mocking; (2) concerns with translating definitions of traditional bullying to cyberbullying; (3) opinions that cyberbullying may manifest differently in college compared to younger adolescents, including increased potential for long-term effects. College students were not in agreement about a theoretical definition, but they could agree upon specific representative instances of cyberbullying. Future studies could consider using common case examples or vignettes of cyberbullying, or creation of developmentally representative definitions by age group. View Full-Text
Keywords: college student; bullying; cyberbullying; internet; focus group; Facebook; social media; online safety; young adult; LGBTQ college student; bullying; cyberbullying; internet; focus group; Facebook; social media; online safety; young adult; LGBTQ
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kota, R.; Schoohs, S.; Benson, M.; Moreno, M.A. Characterizing Cyberbullying among College Students: Hacking, Dirty Laundry, and Mocking. Societies 2014, 4, 549-560.

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