How Can Mobile Technology Help Reduce The Incidences of Cyberbullying?

Veronica Angel


Cyberbullying is a growing concern that is prevalent among youth andadolescents. The phenomenon is similar to traditional bullying in that it is ahurtful, repetitive behavior that involves a power imbalance and often causespsychosocial challenges for the victim of the abuse. The anonymouscharacteristic of this type of bullying is appealing as it releases theinhibitions of individuals to act in an aggressive manner. The objective ofthis report is to assess how mobile technology can be implemented to provideresource and support to victims of cyberbullying; further, to offer educationabout the negative impact of bullying to youth during the developmental periodin which they are most likely to engage in this behavior. We assessed the YouthRisk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), a national database that tracks sixhealth risk behaviors shown to contribute to death and disability in youth. Wereviewed the proportion of youth who reported “ever been electronicallybullied,”  and focused our analysis onbullying through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or textingduring the 12 months before the survey was given in 2011. In addition to theYRBSS we reviewed literature on the social, environmental and cultural causesand consequences of electronic bullying. Finally, we assessed the mobile healthpromotion literature which offered information on how to use short messagingservice (SMS) to (1) disseminate information about social behaviors and healthoutcomes, and (2) provide social networking support. Cyberbullying is anationwide phenomenon with 16% of the population reporting a recent experience.A significant gender disparity exists with female victims outnumbering males by2:1 (22.1% versus 10.8% respectively); additionally, cyberbullying appears tobe most prevalent during the 10th and 11th grades.Because cyberbullying is pervasive with a much larger audience, the long-termimplications are substantial and include death by suicide by the bulliedvictim. Currently, 75% of 12-17 year olds and 95% of 18-29 year olds use shortmessaging services (SMS) and more than 30% of all teens own a cell phone. Thestatistics suggest therefore that an opportunity exists to intervene byproviding social networking support to victims of cyberbullying, and educationabout the implications of bullying to youth during the critical periods whenthis behavior is likely to occur. By providing a proposal that outlines use ofmobile technology to target cyberbullying, we hope to spur research that willaddress this issue and minimize its negative emotional and behavioralconsequences.


Cyberbullying, Mobile Tachnology, Youth,

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