Participate / Doctoral Network

The role of school and family factors in mitigating cyberbullying victimization consequences

Introduction to Cyberbullying Victimization

The role of school and family factors in moderating cyberbullying victimization consequences is a critical area of study. Written by Ebru Ozbek, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education, University of Stavanger, this article delves into the multifaceted impact of cyberbullying on children and adolescents. Ebru’s research focuses on understanding how cyberbullying victimization affects young people’s adjustment and the significant roles that parents and schools play in this dynamic.

Project Participate image depicting cyberbullying victimization, featuring a distressed individual receiving harmful messages online

Understanding Victimization and Internalizing Problems

Victimization is one of the crucial factors that threaten individuals’ well-being, diminishing their self-worth and increasing the likelihood of developing internalizing problems such as anxiety and depression. Particularly, consistent victimization can lead to persistent negative effects on an individual’s well-being. Cyberbullying, due to its persistent and pervasive nature in the virtual environment, represents a stable and enduring form of victimization. To protect and support the well-being of individuals, it is essential to comprehend the role of cyberbullying in the development of internalizing problems.

Cyberbullying Victimization: A Persistent Threat

Cyberbullying, characterized by the unrelenting presence of harmful content online, poses a significant threat to the mental health of victims. Unlike traditional bullying, the digital footprint of cyberbullying remains accessible, exacerbating its effects over time. This enduring presence can lead to continuous emotional distress and a heightened sense of vulnerability among victims. As such, understanding the mechanisms of cyberbullying is vital for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Meta-Analysis: A Comprehensive Approach

When embarking on her PhD project, Ebru was intrigued by the extent to which family and school factors influence the relationship between cyberbullying victimization and internalizing problems. Given the diverse conceptualizations and definitions of bullying and cyberbullying, she sought to explore the unique contributions of cyberbullying to internalizing issues. Numerous studies have investigated these dynamics, but the absence of a meta-analysis—an overview study providing comprehensive results on the association—highlighted a significant research gap.

Family and School Factors in Cyberbullying Victimization

Ebru’s investigation revealed a plethora of primary studies examining the roles of family and school factors in the association between cyberbullying victimization and internalizing problems. Despite this wealth of research, the findings were fragmented and varied due to differences in sampling, measures, and definitions. A meta-analysis was thus proposed to synthesize these disparate results and offer a more coherent understanding of the association. This PhD project aimed to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive analysis of previous studies, elucidating the roles of family and school in moderating the impact of cyberbullying.

The Need for a Meta-Analysis

The absence of a meta-analysis in this field meant that no comprehensive overview of the existing research had been conducted. Primary studies varied significantly, making it challenging to draw broad conclusions. By conducting a meta-analysis, Ebru aimed to aggregate and analyze the data systematically, offering a more reliable and generalizable understanding of the influence of family and school factors on cyberbullying victimization and its consequent internalizing problems. This approach promised to yield valuable insights and guide future research and policy.

Introducing a New Methodological Approach

Previous meta-analyses on cyberbullying and internalizing problems primarily focused on study characteristics to evaluate their impact on effect sizes. In contrast, Ebru’s study adopted a novel methodological approach, concentrating on sample characteristics. This innovative method aimed to unearth an uninflated effect size for the association between cyberbullying victimization and internalizing problems, while also disentangling the roles of family and school factors. This comprehensive analysis sought to provide a deeper understanding of the proximal environmental influences on the mental health of young people affected by cyberbullying.

Impact of Proximal Environment on Cyberbullying Victimization

The findings from this study are expected to offer significant insights into how family and school environments can protect young people from developing internalizing problems following cyberbullying incidents. By identifying key protective factors and intervention points, this research aims to inform policies and practices that support the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Ultimately, understanding the role of the proximal environment is crucial for developing holistic and effective strategies to combat the adverse effects of cyberbullying victimization.