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Cyberbullying and Middle School Student: Internet Behavior and Perceptions of Internet Risk

Tonianne Napolitano, Johnson & Wales University


Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at emergency departments across the United States each year (Centers for Disease Control, 2010). Research studies have found a link between suicide ideation and involvement in bullying (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). In recent years, the peer aggression typically seen with traditional bullying has now invaded cyberspace due to technological advances (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010). Cyberbullicide is the term used to define suicide due to having indirect or direct experiences with online aggression (Hinduja & Patchin, 2009). As a country we are now dealing with the epidemic of online bullying, cyberbullying. ^ The purpose of this study was to assess middle school students’ Internet knowledge, internet risk and behavior. The study was guided by the following research questions: What do middle school students know about the internet with respect to risk and behavior? How do students describe their use of the Internet and how do they perceive their risk? ^ The study used a mixed-methods research design with a survey to collect the quantitative data, and focus groups to collect the qualitative data. Quantitative data were analyzed using t-tests, ANOVAs and descriptive statistics; content analysis was used to analyze the focus group data. ^ Major findings revealed that only 51.17% of the students had appropriate knowledge of Internet risk and appropriate behavior and 17.8% have been bulled. Significant differences were found in the Knowledge Dimension for gender, grade level, and school classification (p<.01). Significance was also found for grade in both Parental Involvement and Adult Notification Dimensions (p<.001). ^ The outcome of this study gained a deeper understanding of the online behavior of middle school students. These findings may be used to develop prevention and educational programs for middle school students regarding Internet behavior and risk and online digital responsibility.^

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Middle school education|Mass communication

Recommended Citation

Napolitano, Tonianne, "Cyberbullying and Middle School Student: Internet Behavior and Perceptions of Internet Risk" (2013). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10106079.