Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

6-24-2010

Abstract

Electronic aggression is a relatively new communication phenomenon, the mental health impacts of which among youth are an emerging and increasingly critical health problem. The problem is important as many researchers, policy makers, educators, parents and young people are finding it difficult to identify and prevent this form of violence. Moreover, the means and media of this movement continue to evolve at a rapid rate. The purpose of this exploratory study is to examine the phenomena of electronic aggression in youth and the corresponding impact to their psychological health. The current exploratory analysis examines the similarities and differences between traditional bullying and electronic aggression and the significance of the resulting mental health outcomes for youth shown in the bully, victim and bystander roles. A line of inquiry was developed by the researcher to determine whether there may be a potential coliseum effect, amplifying the psychological harm to those involved. Theoretical sampling was used to examine three cases chosen for their social notoriety and ongoing proliferation. In addition to the factual and documented data relative to the vii cases, the original posted comments and interactions of third-party bystanders on the Internet were collected and analyzed in order to examine their contributing role in and potential impact on electronic aggression. Upon analyzing the themes found within these cases, a critical factor emerged relative to the role of the electronic bystander. The ability for a dissociated online persona to be anonymous and invisible in an environment — the Internet — that is relentless and the stage to infinite audiences has the potential to amplify the aggression's negative effect on the target by prolonging the victimization indefinitely. At the same time, this virtual coliseum seems to evoke aggressive behaviors among some youth who otherwise might not engage in this form of violence. The researcher determined that potential negative mental health impacts may be increased as a result of a coliseum effect, where peripheral spectators to acts of electronic aggression contribute to and nourish its existence. As unmonitored access to the Internet and other electronic media increases, electronic aggression will likely follow a similar trajectory. It is therefore critical to conduct further research on this phenomenon in order to understand how and why it occurs and how various short and long term repercussions on the mental health of the youth involved evolve. Only then can preventive measures be developed, implemented and systematically evaluated.

Keywords

Cyberbullying--Psychological aspects, Cyberbullying--Social aspects, Aggressiveness in youth--Social aspects, Youth--Psychology--Social aspects

Document Type

Thesis

Language

English

Degree Name

Health Education

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Advisor

Avila, Magdalena

Second Advisor

Duryea, Eli

First Committee Member (Chair)

Graeber, David

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