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Cyberbullying, Mental Health and Behavioral Difficulties in Early Adolescents

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2022) | Viewed by 40083

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, Università degli Studi di Torino, Turin, 10124 Torino, Italy
Interests: bullying and cyberbullying; teacher-child relationship; atypical development; child abuse and neglect; violence
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, Lund University, SE 220 00 Lund, Sweden
Interests: the study of motivation in different contexts; school bullying; bystander roles; factors influencing bystander motivation to defend victims
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Methodology and Behavioral Science, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Spain
Interests: violence, bullying and cyberbullying; teacher-child relationship; atypical development; child abuse and neglect; LGBT people; methodology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Cyberbullying is a complex and widespread phenomenon of victimization that trails in all countries of the world. New technologies, especially social networks that individuals globally use daily, further increase the risk of said phenomenon. The unfavorable outcomes and risk factors for mental health and behavioral problems are well known and recognized in bullying.

However, this research topic aims to bring an interdisciplinary point of view and cultural perspectives from international researchers who explore the theoretical and empirical discoveries of the relationship among cyberbullying, victimization, mental health, and behavioral difficulties, especially in early adolescents.

To this end, we are soliciting manuscripts from researchers who focus on:

  • Risk factors that mediate the relationships among cyberbullying, victimization, and mental health;
  • The role of social networks as a risk factor in cyberbullying;
  • Supportive prevention strategies in the school, educational, and cognitive–behavioral environments.

Prof. Dr. Claudio Longobardi
Prof. Dr. Tomas Jungert
Prof. Dr. Laura Badenes-Ribera
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Cyberbullying
  • Victimization
  • Mental Health
  • Adolescents
  • Internalized and externalized symptoms

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 918 KiB  
Article
The Association between Appetitive Aggression and Social Media Addiction Mediated by Cyberbullying: The Moderating Role of Inclusive Norms
by Natalie Wong, Takuya Yanagida, Christiane Spiel and Daniel Graf
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 9956; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19169956 - 12 Aug 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3234
Abstract
Appetitive aggression, i.e., the motivation to obtain rewards through aggressive behaviors, has been suggested as a key driver of cyberbullying. Due to the contextual properties of cyberspace (e.g., anonymity), it is assumed that the negative effects of cyberbullying are masked, leading to a [...] Read more.
Appetitive aggression, i.e., the motivation to obtain rewards through aggressive behaviors, has been suggested as a key driver of cyberbullying. Due to the contextual properties of cyberspace (e.g., anonymity), it is assumed that the negative effects of cyberbullying are masked, leading to a preponderance of its positive outcomes (e.g., thrill). Since cyberbullying occurs predominantly in social media, reward-learning effects may lead to problematic social media use, such as addiction. Anti-cyberbullying inclusive norms might act as a buffering factor to break this chain. However, while inclusive norms are known to reduce cyberbullying in general, their influence on the indirect effect of appetitive aggression via cyberbullying on social media addiction is yet unknown. The present study examined this indirect effect, while taking the moderating role of inclusive norms into account. A total of 1064 adolescents (42.05% male, Mage = 14.07, SD = 2.15) completed questionnaires. Results revealed the indirect effect of appetitive aggression on social media addiction through cyberbullying as expected. Surprisingly, this indirect effect was amplified with increasing anti-cyberbullying inclusive norms. Our findings indicate that appetitive aggression, which manifests in cyberbullying, contributes to the development of social media addiction. The unexpected results and the implications of our findings were discussed. Full article
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0 pages, 900 KiB  
Article
Exploring Multivariate Profiles of Psychological Distress and Empathy in Early Adolescent Victims, Bullies, and Bystanders Involved in Cyberbullying Episodes
by Matteo Angelo Fabris, Claudio Longobardi, Rosalba Morese and Davide Marengo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 9871; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19169871 - 10 Aug 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2777 | Correction
Abstract
(1) Background: Adolescents may be involved in cyberbullying as victims, perpetrators, or to a lesser extent, victim–perpetrators simultaneously. The present research investigated differences between participants acting in different bullying roles—namely, bully, victim, or bully/victim—and bystander roles—namely, defending, passive bystander, and passive/defending; (2) Methods: [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Adolescents may be involved in cyberbullying as victims, perpetrators, or to a lesser extent, victim–perpetrators simultaneously. The present research investigated differences between participants acting in different bullying roles—namely, bully, victim, or bully/victim—and bystander roles—namely, defending, passive bystander, and passive/defending; (2) Methods: We used multivariate analysis of covariance to determine how, in the same individuals, direct involvement in cyberbullying episodes compares to participating in them as by-standers in relation to both psychological distress and empathy; (3) Results: Both victims and bully/victims were found to be at increased risk for suicidal ideation, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and emotional dysregulation compared with students who were neither victims nor perpetrators of cyberbullying episodes. Additionally, victims showed higher empathy scores when compared with bullies and bully/victims. All bystander roles showed increased emotional dysregulation compared with uninvolved students, but no differences emerged on other psychological distress measures. Finally, defending bystanders showed increased cognitive empathy. (4) Conclusions: During early adolescence, the direct experience of cyberbullying, as a bully or a victim (or both), show a stronger association with psychological distress than the mere participation in cyberbullying as a witness, regardless of the witness acting defensive toward the victim, or passive. However, both cyberbullying and bystanding roles provide a similar (small) explicative power over empathy variables. Full article
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9 pages, 458 KiB  
Article
Early Adolescents’ Motivations to Defend Victims of Cyberbullying
by Nathaniel Oliver Iotti, Damiano Menin and Tomas Jungert
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(14), 8656; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148656 - 16 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1699
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate how different types of motivation to defend victims of bullying would be associated with various bystander behaviors in cyberbullying situations among early adolescents in Sweden. Data were collected from 460 Swedish adolescents aged between 11 [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate how different types of motivation to defend victims of bullying would be associated with various bystander behaviors in cyberbullying situations among early adolescents in Sweden. Data were collected from 460 Swedish adolescents aged between 11 and 15 years who completed a survey in their classroom. Results showed that autonomous motivation to defend was positively associated with defender behavior and negatively associated with pro-bully and passive behavior, while extrinsic motivation was positively associated with pro-bully and passive behavior. Age was positively associated with increased passive behavior and dampened defensive behavior, while no effect of gender was found on defender behavior. Our findings suggest that students’ autonomous motivation to defend victims is important in cyberbullying situations. Full article
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10 pages, 678 KiB  
Article
The Moderating Role of Deviant Peer Affiliation in the Relation between Cyber-Victimization, Tobacco and Alcohol Use, and Age Differences
by Xiaojun Sun, Liangshuang Yao, Gengfeng Niu and Shanyan Lin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8294; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168294 - 5 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1866
Abstract
Cyber-victimization, tobacco and alcohol use are all prominent public health problems among adolescents throughout the world. Against this background, this study examined the association between cyber-victimization and tobacco and alcohol use, as well as the moderating role of deviant peer affiliation and the [...] Read more.
Cyber-victimization, tobacco and alcohol use are all prominent public health problems among adolescents throughout the world. Against this background, this study examined the association between cyber-victimization and tobacco and alcohol use, as well as the moderating role of deviant peer affiliation and the potential age differences among elementary, middle, and high school students. A survey conducted among 1488 school students (aged 9–19 years, consisting of 702 elementary school students, 318 middle school students, and 468 high school students) found that cyber-victimization was positively correlated with tobacco and alcohol use among students of all stages. However, the moderating mechanism was different. Among elementary school students, deviant peer affiliation played a positive moderating role. For individuals with high deviant peer affiliation, this association was stronger. Among middle school students, the moderating role of deviant peer affiliation was insignificant. Among high school students, deviant peer affiliation played a negative moderating role; this association was significant for individuals with low deviant peer affiliation. The results of this study clarify the relationship between cyber-victimization and tobacco and alcohol use by examining the moderating role of deviant peer affiliation and age differences, providing intervention guidance for reducing the negative influences of cyber-victimization on children and adolescents with respect their use of tobacco and alcohol. Full article
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13 pages, 645 KiB  
Article
Perpetration of and Victimization in Cyberbullying and Traditional Bullying in Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Roles of Impulsivity, Frustration Intolerance, and Hostility
by Tai-Ling Liu, Ray C. Hsiao, Wen-Jiun Chou and Cheng-Fang Yen
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6872; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136872 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2617
Abstract
Victimization and perpetration of cyberbullying and traditional bullying are prevalent among adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study examined the associations of impulsivity, frustration discomfort, and hostility with victimization and with the perpetration of cyberbullying and traditional bullying in adolescents with ADHD. Self-reported [...] Read more.
Victimization and perpetration of cyberbullying and traditional bullying are prevalent among adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study examined the associations of impulsivity, frustration discomfort, and hostility with victimization and with the perpetration of cyberbullying and traditional bullying in adolescents with ADHD. Self-reported involvement in cyberbullying and traditional bullying was assessed in 195 adolescents with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD. Adolescents also completed questionnaires for impulsivity, frustration discomfort, and hostility. Caregivers completed the Child Behavior Checklist for adolescents’ ADHD, internalization, oppositional defiance, and problems with conduct. The associations of impulsivity, frustration discomfort, and hostility with victimization and perpetration of cyberbullying and traditional bullying were examined using logistic regression analysis. The results demonstrated that after the effects of demographic characteristics and behavioral problems were controlled for, frustration intolerance increased the risks of being cyberbullying victims and perpetrators whereas hostility increased the risks of being the victims and perpetrators of traditional bullying. Impulsivity was not significantly associated with any type of bullying involvement. Prevention and intervention programs should alleviate frustration intolerance and hostility among adolescents with ADHD. Full article
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15 pages, 559 KiB  
Article
Gratitude as a Protective Factor for Cyberbullying Victims: Conditional Effects on School and Life Satisfaction
by Xavier Oriol, Jorge Varela and Rafael Miranda
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052666 - 9 Mar 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3607
Abstract
Recently, studies linking the emotion of dispositional gratitude to cyberbullying have attracted attention. However, this is still a seminal research area that requires further scientific studies. Through longitudinal data, this study aims to analyze the mitigating effect of gratitude on cybervictimization and two [...] Read more.
Recently, studies linking the emotion of dispositional gratitude to cyberbullying have attracted attention. However, this is still a seminal research area that requires further scientific studies. Through longitudinal data, this study aims to analyze the mitigating effect of gratitude on cybervictimization and two indicators of adolescent subjective well-being, namely school and life satisfaction. To this end, 221 adolescents attending private schools in Peru (age: mean (M) = 12.09; standard deviation (SD) = 0.89) were selected to respond to a self-administered questionnaire in two waves that were six months apart. Descriptive data show that 27% of cybervictims also suffer other types of traditional bullying. The overlaps between forms of bullying contribute to higher probabilities of experiencing low school and life satisfaction compared to non-victims after six months. The results of the moderation analysis show that experience high gratitude help students to maintain stable levels of life satisfaction regardless of the prevalence of cyberbullying after six months The results are discussed in terms of the relevance of fostering gratitude from early ages. Full article
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13 pages, 1727 KiB  
Article
Cybervictimization and Adolescent Internet Addiction: A Moderated Mediation Model
by Mucheng Xin, Pei Chen, Qiao Liang, Chengfu Yu, Shuangju Zhen and Wei Zhang
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2427; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052427 - 2 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3608
Abstract
Previous research indicates that cybervictimization can lead to adolescent Internet addiction; however, there is a gap in the knowledge about the mediating and moderating variables facilitating this relationship. This study examines the role of rejection sensitivity as a mediator in this relationship and [...] Read more.
Previous research indicates that cybervictimization can lead to adolescent Internet addiction; however, there is a gap in the knowledge about the mediating and moderating variables facilitating this relationship. This study examines the role of rejection sensitivity as a mediator in this relationship and the role of parent–adolescent communication as a moderator for this mediation effect among Chinese adolescents. Participants were 1006 adolescents (M = 13.16 years, SD = 0.67), who completed the questionnaires anonymously. The questionnaires assessed the four variables of interest. Descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling were used for data analysis. The results show that the positive association between cybervictimization and adolescent Internet addiction is mediated by rejection sensitivity. Moreover, this indirect effect is stronger for adolescents with low parent–adolescent communication than for those with high parent–adolescent communication. Full article
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11 pages, 618 KiB  
Article
Cyberbullying Involvement and Psychological Distress among Chinese Adolescents: The Moderating Effects of Family Cohesion and School Cohesion
by Xi Zhang, Ziqiang Han and Zhanlong Ba
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8938; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17238938 - 1 Dec 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2993
Abstract
Cyberbullying and its consequences is a little-investigated public health issue. We investigated the correlations between cyberbullying involvement, either being a victim or being a preparator, and psychological distress among a group of Chinese adolescents. A representative sample of 4978 students from Jiangsu province [...] Read more.
Cyberbullying and its consequences is a little-investigated public health issue. We investigated the correlations between cyberbullying involvement, either being a victim or being a preparator, and psychological distress among a group of Chinese adolescents. A representative sample of 4978 students from Jiangsu province covering all types of pre-college schools was surveyed using a stratified sampling method. Both being a victim and being a perpetrator correlated with higher degrees of psychological distress, and the former’s effect is stronger. Family cohesion and school cohesion are protective factors of psychological distress, but only family cohesion plays a moderating effect between cyberbullying involvement and distress. Moreover, the positive correlations between cyberbullying involvement and psychological distress become non-significant when the interactions are included in regression models. Last but not least, female students and students in a higher grade or students with worse academic performance have higher degrees of distress. Our study reveals that, instead of school cohesion, family cohesion is more important to mitigate the psychological impact of cyberbullying involvement and eventually heal the trauma. Full article
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10 pages, 341 KiB  
Article
Gratitude and Emotional Intelligence as Protective Factors against Cyber-Aggression: Analysis of a Mediation Model
by María Teresa Chamizo-Nieto, Lourdes Rey and John Pellitteri
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4475; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124475 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3866
Abstract
Cyber-bullying is becoming an increasing school and health problem affecting adolescents worldwide. A number of studies have examined risk factors and protective factors in cyber-bullying situations and their consequences on the psychological well-being of adolescents. Gratitude and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are two personal [...] Read more.
Cyber-bullying is becoming an increasing school and health problem affecting adolescents worldwide. A number of studies have examined risk factors and protective factors in cyber-bullying situations and their consequences on the psychological well-being of adolescents. Gratitude and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are two personal resources that have been shown to have beneficial effects on the health and the social, personal and psychological functioning of young people. Nevertheless, little is known about these two variables in the context of cyber-bullying. The main purpose of this study was to examine the roles of gratitude and EI in cyber-aggression. Specifically, we hypothesised a mediational effect of gratitude in emotional intelligence-cyber-aggression link. A total of 1157 students aged 12–18 years (54.4% females) completed several questionnaires assessing gratitude (Gratitude Questionnaire; GQ-5), EI (Wong and Law’s Emotional Intelligence Scale; WLEIS-S) and cyber-bullying (European Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire; ECIPQ). The results showed expected significant associations between the studied variables. Moreover, the structural equation model analysis confirmed that EI dimensions were indirectly associated with cyber-aggression via gratitude, even when controlling for the effects of socio-demographic variables. These findings provide evidence on why those adolescents high in emotional intelligence are less aggressive in cyber-bullying context and suggest possibilities for gratitude interventions to reduce aggressive actions by electronic means among adolescents. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Full article
13 pages, 948 KiB  
Article
Cyberbullying Victimization and Adolescent Depression: The Mediating Role of Psychological Security and the Moderating Role of Growth Mindset
by Gengfeng Niu, Jing He, Shanyan Lin, Xiaojun Sun and Claudio Longobardi
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4368; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124368 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 7573
Abstract
The objective of this study was to examine the mechanisms (the mediating role of psychological security and the moderating role of growth mindset) underlying the association between cyberbullying victimization and depression among adolescents. A sample of 755 adolescents (Mage = 13.35 ± [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to examine the mechanisms (the mediating role of psychological security and the moderating role of growth mindset) underlying the association between cyberbullying victimization and depression among adolescents. A sample of 755 adolescents (Mage = 13.35 ± 1.02; 373 boys) was recruited from two junior high schools, and the participants were asked to voluntarily complete a set of measures, including the cyberbullying victimization subscale in the Chinese version of the Cyberbullying Inventory, the Chinese version of the Security Questionnaire, the Chinese version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and the Growth Mindset Inventory. The results indicated that: (1) cyberbullying victimization was positively associated with depression through the mediating effect of psychological security and (2) both the direct association between cyberbullying victimization and depression and the indirect association through the mediating effect of psychological security were moderated by growth mindset. Specifically, growth mindset could significantly alleviate the adverse effects of cyberbullying victimization on psychological security and on depression. These findings not only shed light on the mechanisms linking cyberbullying victimization to depression among adolescents, but also provide an empirical basis for formulating prevention and/or intervention programs aimed at reducing depression levels and the negative influences of cyberbullying victimization among adolescents. Full article
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16 pages, 395 KiB  
Article
Methodological Analysis of the Effect of an Anti-Bullying Programme in Secondary Education through Communicative Competence: A Pre-Test–Post-Test Study with a Control-Experimental Group
by Fernando González-Alonso, Francisco D. Guillén-Gámez and Rosa Mᵃ de Castro-Hernández
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3047; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093047 - 27 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4490
Abstract
The promotion of communicative competence in students play a key role in schools for the purpose of improving social, emotional and coexistence relationships in Secondary Education students. The development of said competence can represent a great strategy to improve conflicts in the classroom, [...] Read more.
The promotion of communicative competence in students play a key role in schools for the purpose of improving social, emotional and coexistence relationships in Secondary Education students. The development of said competence can represent a great strategy to improve conflicts in the classroom, notably bullying. We used a quasi-experimental pre-test and post-test control group design with a sample of 55 students from the city of Salamanca (Spain) to analyse the level of conflict and their perceptions about bullying during the 2017–2018 academic year. The anti-bullying programme called the Improvement of Coexistence and Communicative Competence (ICCC) programme used is. The behaviour of students based on their level of coexistence with the group of classmates was measured by the INSEBULL instrument (Bullying Assessment Instrument), which added one more dimension of own elaboration. The results showed that, even though the significant levels of conflict, they decreased substantially once the ICCC programme was applied. Furthermore, we found differences between the control and experimental groups which underlined the effectiveness of the program. Regarding gender, no differences were found in the experimental group. This study shows that the development of communicative competence in students has a significant impact on their level of coexistence with other classmates, although the results suggested the need for longitudinal implementation of the programme in order to improve school coexistence and social skills of students from the early stages of education. Full article
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