January 19, 2013 New Orleans When we typically think of kids who are the victims of school bullying, what comes to mind are isolated youth who do not fit in. A new study, however, shows that when that harassment occurs online, the victims tend to be in mainstream social groups at the school and they are often friends or former friends, not strangers.
The research is part of a burgeoning field of study into the effects of social media on everyday relationships and behavior. Personality and social psychologists are finding surprising ways in which people's online environments and relationships reflect and influence their real-world ones, as presented today at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) annual meeting today in New Orleans.
"Researchers have known for a while that individuals give unique cues about who they are with the things they own, clothes they wear, things they say and do. However, though these cues are informative to knowing who someone truly is, they were not always so easily accessible to our entire social network," says Lindsay Graham of the University of Texas, Austin, one of today's presenters. "Now with much of our lives being lived online, and the boundaries having been blurred between who sees these cues and who doesn't, it is all the more important to pay attention to the kinds of impressions we are giving off to those around us."
The emerging image of the cyber-bully
Some statistics indicate that as many as 160,000 students a year skip school just to avoid being harassed, and texting and social media are making it easier than ever to harass classmates. Victimization from schoolmates has been correlated with everything from depression and anxiety to thoughts of suicide and struggles with academics.
To study so-called "cyber-aggression" harassment that occurs online Diane Felmlee of the Pennsylvania State University and Robert Faris of the University of Californi
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Society for Personality and Social Psychology