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Cyberbullying aggressors among Spanish secondary education students: an exploratory study

Sofía Buelga (Social Psychology Department, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Maria J. Cava (Social Psychology Department, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
Gonzalo Musitu (Department of Education and Social Psychology, University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain)
Eva Torralba (Department of Psychology, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 15 June 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the prevalence rate of adolescents engaging in aggressive behaviours towards their peers using the Internet and mobile phones, while examining the duration and intensity of this cyberbullying, and to analyse differences in cyberbullying behaviours based on gender and age (academic grades). Research on cyberbullying indicates that it is a global problem that is increasing dramatically among adolescents.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample was composed of 1,415 Spanish adolescents of both sexes (760 boys and 655 girls) between 12 and 17 years old (M = 13.9 years old; SD = 1.4).

Findings

The results indicated that the cyberbullying prevalence among adolescents in the past year was 32 per cent. Likewise, the data suggest that boys and students in their fourth year of secondary education (15-17 years old) perpetrated cyberbullying on their peers more than girls and students in lower grades.

Research limitations/implications

The results presented in this research should be interpreted with caution due to its cross-sectional nature; a longitudinal study with measurements at different times would help to confirm the results observed here. On the other hand, in this study, the adolescents’ responses were obtained through self-reports and, although they could be subject to social desirability effects and biases, as indicated by Flisher et al. (2004), the reliability and validity of adolescent self-reports in the measurement of risk behaviours were quite acceptable.

Practical implications

It is of crucial importance to develop educational strategies designed to favour the responsible use of the new technologies. In many cases, children and adolescents are not aware of psychological and legal consequences that their cyber-aggressions can have on themselves, on the victims and on their families and social environment.

Social implications

The authors feel that this research may contribute to clarifying some crucial issues related to the growing problem of cyberbullying that affects adolescents in many countries of the world. As the present research deals with aspects of interactive technology and smart education, the authors believe that the findings reported in the manuscript would be of interest to potential readers of this Journal.

Originality/value

This paper is an original perspective on cyberbullying aggressors among secondary education students in a Spanish context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Work supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under grant number PSI2012/33464. Prior to research, the study protocol and informed consent form were approved by the Ethics Committees of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the University of Valencia.

Citation

Buelga, S., Cava, M.J., Musitu, G. and Torralba, E. (2015), "Cyberbullying aggressors among Spanish secondary education students: an exploratory study", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 100-115. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-08-2014-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited