Due to the ongoing debate regarding the definitions and measurement of cyberbullying, the present article critically appraises the existing literature and offers direction regarding the question of how best to conceptualise peer-to-peer abuse in a cyber context. Variations across definitions are problematic as it has been argued that inconsistencies with regard to definitions result in researchers examining different phenomena, whilst the absence of an agreed conceptualisation of the behaviour(s) involved hinders the development of reliable and valid measures. Existing definitions of cyberbullying often incorporate the criteria of traditional bullying such as intent to harm, repetition, and imbalance of power. However, due to the unique nature of cyber-based communication, it can be difficult to identify such criteria in relation to cyber-based abuse. Thus, for these reasons cyberbullying may not be the most appropriate term. Rather than attempting to “shoe-horn” this abusive behaviour into the preconceived conceptual framework that provides an understanding of traditional bullying, it is timely to take an alternative approach. We argue that it is now time to turn our attention to the broader issue of cyber aggression, rather than persist with the narrow focus that is cyberbullying.
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