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Perceived vulnerability of cyberbullying on social networking sites: effects of security measures, addiction and self-disclosure

Shilpi Jain (Department of Information Technology, FORE School of Management, New Delhi, India)
Soni Agrawal (Department of Management, International Management Institute, Kolkata, India)

Indian Growth and Development Review

ISSN: 1753-8254

Article publication date: 25 June 2020

Issue publication date: 15 June 2021




Cyber-bullying is a form of cyber-crime that has been propagated through extensive use of social networking sites (SNS). Despite the implementation of sophisticated security measures and government compliances, privacy intrusion is petrifying. Therefore, the purpose of this paper attempts to explore as follows: why cases of bullying are still snowballing year after year? Is it possible that advances in security measures are making users more vulnerable? Or, is it a social media addiction, which is making users vulnerable to cyberbullying?


The proposed research framework is grounded in the technology threat avoidance theory (TTAT). An empirical survey of 365 social media users was analysed using structural equation modelling (SEM) to understand the impact of security measures, voluntary self-disclosure (VSD) and addiction on perceived vulnerability (PV) to cyber-bullying.


The findings indicate that security measures play a significant role in propelling users to disclose their personal information voluntarily, which, in turn, results in social media addiction, which further exposes users to cyberbullying. Moreover, the study unravels gender differences in perceived vulnerabilities to cyberbullying.

Practical implications

The findings of the current research contribute to a better understanding of gender differences in the awareness of security measures, addiction intensities, level of self-disclosures and propensity to cyberbullying victimization. Additionally, prevention and intervention efforts may benefit from using a more targeted approach to identify potential male and female victims that experience different forms of bullying on SNS.


In addition to other constructs, the current research investigates the role of user security measures (USM) and website security measures (WSM) on the PV to cyberbullying, typically, the role of these measures is to prevent the users from becoming the victims, whereas the research unravels that they could be the possible reasons for the increased number of cases in India. To the best of the knowledge, such conflicting roles of security measures have not been discussed earlier.



The authors would like to acknowledge the infrastructure support provided by FORE School of Management, New Delhi, India and International Management Institute, Kolkata, India.


Jain, S. and Agrawal, S. (2021), "Perceived vulnerability of cyberbullying on social networking sites: effects of security measures, addiction and self-disclosure", Indian Growth and Development Review, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 149-171.



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