On SAGE Insight: Cyberbullying in WhatsApp classmates’ groups: Evaluation of an intervention program

Article title: Cyberbullying in WhatsApp classmates’ groups: Evaluation of an intervention program implemented in Israeli elementary and middle schools

From New Media & Society

In recent years, social networking services have become a major platform through which children and adolescents lead their social lives (Livingstone and In the virtual world of social networking, parents find supervising and being involved in their children’s lives particularly challenging, often avoiding supervision altogether. The reduced parental-supervised environment of social networking platforms, particularly WhatsApp, exposes children and adolescents to various types of risks, one of which is cyberbullying. Schools have become increasingly aware of this risk and are prioritizing fighting cyberbullying through intervention programs, yet few interventions have been studied for their effectiveness. This study reports the results of a wide-scale school-based intervention designed to reduce cyberbullying and improve usage norms in WhatsApp classmates’ groups.

Data were collected from 52 classes in 12 public schools in Israel. A total of 1402 students answered questionnaires pre-intervention, while 90% of them answered questionnaires 1 month post-intervention. Cyberbullying is defined as willful and repeated harm inflicted through computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. WhatsApp classmates’ groups may be a context of cyberbullying perpetration. Results indicated a significant decrease in WhatsApp cyberbullying and a significant improvement in classroom climate. The findings of this study will have implications for the development of guidelines for preventive interventions in the school setting.

Abstract

Social networking platforms, such as WhatsApp, constitute a major part of adolescents’ social lives. Alongside the positive aspects of such platforms, there is a risk of using them as a means for cyberbullying. Schools have become increasingly aware of this risk and are prioritizing fighting cyberbullying through intervention programs, yet few interventions have been studied for their effectiveness. This study reports the results of a wide-scale school-based intervention designed to reduce cyberbullying and improve usage norms in WhatsApp classmates’ groups. Data were collected from 52 classes in 12 public schools in Israel: n = 47 elementary school clases, 4th to 6th grades, and n = 5 middle school classes, 80th grade. A total of 1402 students answered questionnaires pre-intervention (51% females), while 90% of them (n = 1268, 52% females) answered questionnaires 1 month post-intervention. Results indicated a significant decrease in WhatsApp cyberbullying and a significant improvement in classroom climate. In addition, improvement in WhatsApp usage norms was positively correlated with a decrease in WhatsApp cyberbullying.

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Article details
Cyberbullying in WhatsApp classmates’ groups: Evaluation of an intervention program implemented in Israeli elementary and middle schools
Dana Aizenkot, Gabriela Kashy-Rosenbaum
First Published June 20, 2018 Research
DOI:10.1177/1461444818782702
From New Media & Society

     
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