Visiting Researcher Dr. Thorsten Quandt discusses Cyberbullying

Event Date: 

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 3:30pm

Event Location: 

  • 1009 SS&MS

Event Contact: 

Dr. Rene Weber, renew@comm.ucsb.edu

Speaker:

Dr. Thorsten Quandt, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster

Cyberbullying Among Adolescents: Individual and Structural Risk Factors

From the media coverage alone, one gets the impression that cyberbullying has become a public sport among adolescents. The range of reported hostile acts is wide, from writing mean-spirited e-mails to spreading rumors online to identity theft via fake profiles on social media sites. Despite this abundance of coverage and the seeming ubiquity of cyberbullying, empirical understanding of this phenomenon is relatively slim. A growing number of empirical studies seek to resolve this ambiguity by elucidating the reasons, risk factors, and long-term effects of cyberbullying.

Dr. Quandt and his research team are focusing on the individual and structural factors that contribute to cyberbullying as a phenomenon. They are currently in the middle of a large-scale, three wave panel study, where they interview 5,500 students from more than 30 schools over the course of 3 years. The students are not only asked about their individual attitudes and behavior, but also about the behavior of their friends. This approach allows researchers to uncover underlying social structures via network analysis and check for the contribution to the phenomenon via-a-vis the influence of individual features. The preliminary findings from the first wave of the study are surprising, and counter some of the earlier assumptions in the literature. Using social network data and multilevel modeling, Quandt and his team can show that attributes of the classroom group contributed only to a small extent to the risk of being involved in cyberbullying. Individual level explanations were more powerful: Previous experience with bullying in school and an intensive, unrestricted social use of the Internet were the strongest predictors of cyberbullying behavior.

In his presentation, Dr. Quandt (Institute fur Kommunikationswissenschaft, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster) will discuss these findings in the context of previous research and ask some crucial questions about the consequences for the development of tailor-made (and more effective) cyberbullying prevention strategies.

This lecture will be held in Social Sciences and Media Studies 1009 at 3:30 pm.