Information technologies in general and the Internet in particular are beneficial to humanity. They provide unlimited opportunities for communication, self-improvement, time management, and instant contact facilitation to almost any corner of the world. Global network for the young generation is a powerful tool for their socialization, education, and participation in public life. Teens use the Internet to communicate with friends and peers, mentors, participate in online communities of interest, perform school tasks, download information, music, movies, watching videos, and looking for new friends. Meanwhile, the active introduction of the Internet technology has a dark side: the lack of social face-to-face interaction hinders the development of skills in interpersonal contact; children become less socialized and more computerized. In addition, unfortunately, the innovative communications technologies provide more possibilities to harm a person, resulting in a growing number of the Internet crimes against personality (Price & Dalgleish, 2010). Insults in chat rooms, forums, blogs, and the commentary thereto, fake pages or videos with elements of violence have become a widespread part of the Internet. Currently, popular social networks are gradually becoming a battlefield where teens built their relationship, mocking of each other, losing the line between reality and game.
Cyber bullying is an attack with the aim of psychological harm that takes place via e-mail, instant messaging, in chat rooms, social networks, websites, as well as through mobile communication (Beran & Li, 2005). Cyber bullying involves a range of behaviors that, as a minimum, comprise jokes that are not taken seriously, and at the very outside – a virtual psychological terror that causes irreparable harm and can lead to suicide and death. Cyber bullying, as a rule, is widespread among teenagers and youngsters. However, adults do not consider such activity a dangerous practice to their children, although the consequences of bullying are real and frequent: there are many reports of injuries inflicted by peers, attempts of suicide, and tragic deaths. Cyber bulling remains invisible and the damage, made by it, – unrecognized. However, it is a real problem, despite its virtual nature (Dilmac, 2009).
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There is a wide variety of researches concerning the cyber bullying problem. Many researchers consider this type of bullying a great danger to psychological and physiological health, and even life of teenagers. Therefore, they try to investigate the problem deeply and in detail. Consequently, a range of articles considering this or that aspect of cyber bullying is generally available.
First part of the studies deal with the scopes of the problem. Such studies try to find out the approximate number of teenagers involved in cyber bullying. For example, Beran and Li (2005) made a research among Canadian student from grades 7-9 in order to define the scope of the problem. The result showed that a small number of students were directly involved in bullying (3%). However, almost 70% of teenagers knew about the existence of the problem. In addition, the authors made a conclusion that teenagers are afraid of talking on the matter with parents, school counselors, and other authorities. Therefore, the percentage of teenagers that experience cyber harassment may be much higher. As for the United States, Dilmac (2009) made the similar research to that of Beran and Li. The results were shocking – almost 56% of participants reported being victims of cyber bullying.
The second question to be investigated is the theoretical aspect of the problem. The great amount of literature describes the problem not involving the empirical studies. These authors simply gather theoretical data, literature, and governmental reports, in order to generalize and texture the information on the matter. For example, Campbell (2005) conducted theoretical research, in order to explain the tendency of a teenager to replace face-to-face bullying by cyber one. Keith and Martin (2005) also made a literature review, in order to state the problem and determine its scopes based on different surveys and studies conducted by other researchers. In addition, the authors presented a collection of intervention plans for parents and school counsellors in order to prevent the fix cyber bullying behavior in teenagers together with developing the coping strategies for adolescent to deal with virtual harassment on their own.
Brown, Jackson, and Cassidy (2006), in their turn, theoretically investigated the aspect, as well. The authors stated and defined a problem, determined the differences and similarities between face-to-face and cyber bullying, and introduced the strategies and plans to cope with such behaviors. Again, the research is based on the theoretical data and empirical researches of other scientists. The authors also concluded that, despite the great amount of researches made on the matter, the reason for teenagers to become a bully, victim or both are unclear. In addition, the differences and similarities between face-to-face and cyber harassment are implicit.
The third great part of investigations deal with the causes of virtual harassment. The researchers are trying to identify the sources and a base for such behavior. The abovementioned author Dilmac (2009), along with investigating the expansion of the problem, tried to determine its causes. He found out that the psychological aspects such as aggression and succorance need were the strongest predictors of the bullying behavior. In addition, he concluded that the psychological state of a teenager (mental illnesses, family relations, among many others) plays an outstanding role in the development of the bullying behavior. Wang, Iannotti, and Nansel (2009) conducted similar research but considered four general types of cyber bullying and their dependence on the environment and socioeconomic features. The study showed that close relationships with parents decrease the likelihood of becoming a bully. In addition, greater number of friends increases the possibility of the bullying behavior in the future.
Twyman, Saylor, Taylor, and Comeaux (2010), in their turn, made a research concerning the connection between the Internet use, typical social activities, traditional bullying, and cyber harassment. In addition, they studied the characteristic features of the typical bullying participants. The conducted research showed that various Internet activities, together with the face-to-face bullying are the direct cause of becoming a victim, bully, or both. Furthermore, Dooley, Pyzalski, and Cross (2009) in details investigated the codependence of the face-to-face and cyber bullying. They asserted that teenagers that were involved in the face-to-face bully are much more likely to engage in the similar activity on the Internet. Along with the likelihood, they also investigated similarities and differences between the so-called real and virtual harassment. The results of the research showed that the question of differences between two types of bullying is not investigated to the necessary extent. In addition, the authors proved that a cyber bullying has many similarities with the face-to-face one: causes, base, and intentions.
Finally, the greatest part of the researches conducted is dedicated to the intervention plans and coping strategies with the cyber bullying behavior. The literature concerning this issue considers two aspects – the response policies for parents, guidance officers and school authorities and the coping strategies for teenager themselves together with their perspectives on the existing problems. Almost all of the abovementioned researches contain a section dealing with the intervention plans for bullies. However, these sections are too small to give a detailed image of the issue. Therefore, there is a great number of researches dealing with the intervention plans and coping strategies in particular.
Price and Dalgleish (2010) highlight the youth perspective on cyber bullying. The research was conducted on the basis of the interview with the Australian youth. Teenagers were interviewed, in order to define the most dangerous age to become a bully, victim, or both and determine the most widespread reaction of the youth to bullying. In addition, adolescents were asked about the differences between being a victim and a bully. Agatston, Kowalski, and Limber (2007) interviewed the focus groups of students, as well. They investigated the issue from the students’ perspective and made a conclusion that adolescents should not cope with cyber bullying alone – parents and school authorities should help them. Vandebosch and Van Cleemput (2008) conducted similar research but focused on the observation of the focus group. The authors determined that teenagers do not separate cyber and face-to-face bullying largely. In addition, adolescents identify bullying as a repetitive intention to hurt. Jokes and mockery are not considered as bullying, but as a simple humor, no matter what harm to a victim these jokes make.
The other part of the response strategies deals with strategies for school authorities, guidance officers, and parents. Bhat (2008) claimed that the old tools used by authorities were not effective so far. Therefore, a necessity in effective intervention methods is crucial for decreasing the scope of cyber bullying. The author also gives examples of such methods along with the study of their usefulness. Cassidy, Faucher, and Jackson (2005) also suggested some intervention plans for authorities and parents to deal with virtual harassment. However, their research is much more useful for school counsellors, rather than parents unlike the previous one. At the same time, Beale and Hall (2007) also introduced the coping strategies, but despite there are intervention plans for both authorities and parents, the strategies for parents are highlighted.
With the development of the modern information technology, communications and involvement of children and adolescents in the world of the Internet and mobile phones caused new school violence, known as cyber bullying – humiliation or bullying via mobile phones and other electronic devices. Sometimes it is more painful for teenagers than the face-to-face bullying. Not surprisingly, the issue drew attention of researchers, and numerous studies were conducted in order to define the cause, consequences, and intervention strategies for this problem to be eliminated.