Testing of a brief Internet cyberbullying prevention program in college students

by Doane, Ashley Nicole, Ph.D., OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY, 2011, 91 pages; 3480709


Although the prevalence of cyberbullying varies across investigations, studies on adolescents and college students have shown that cyberbullying is associated with a wide range of negative consequences, including emotional distress, substance use, delinquent behavior, and even suicide. Given the frequency and consequences of cyberbullying, effective low-cost cyberbullying prevention programs are needed. Based on a review of the literature, best practices for program development, and earlier work on cyberbullying (e.g., Doane, Kelley, & Padilla, 2011; Doane, Kelley, Cornell, & Pearson, 2008), the goals of the proposed project were to develop a video-based program to increase knowledge about cyberbullying and empathy toward cyberbullying victims, reduce positive attitudes (overall, instrumental, and experiential evaluation) toward cyberbullying, decrease positive injunctive and descriptive norms about cyberbullying, and reduce intentions to cyberbully and cyberbullying behaviors.

One hundred sixty-seven college students participated in the study. The study was evaluated using a pretest/one-month follow-up design. The experimental group also completed an immediate posttest. The cyberbullying prevention program video successfully decreased positive attitudes toward cyberbullying, decreased reports of cyberbullying behavior, and increased cyberbullying knowledge at the one-month follow-up. Although positive injunctive (i.e., perceptions of others' approval of cyberbullying) and descriptive (i.e., perceptions of others' actual behavior) norms about cyberbullying decreased at the immediate post which took place for the experimental group immediately after viewing the video cyberbullying program, means for injunctive and descriptive norms did not differ between the experimental and control group at the one-month post. The cyberbullying prevention video did not reduce intentions to cyberbully or increase empathy with victims of cyberbullying immediately after viewing the program or at the one-month follow-up.

The goal of this research was to develop a cyberbullying prevention program that can be provided to university students. These findings suggest that a brief cyberbullying video targeting college students is capable of improving norms about cyberbullying temporarily, and can change attitudes toward cyberbullying, engagement in cyberbullying, and cyberbullying knowledge for at least one month.

This research is the first step toward developing a video-based program that may be modified for use with middle and high school students. This program may be used as a model for future cyberbullying prevention programs.

AdviserMichelle L. Kelley
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsSchool counseling; Counseling psychology; Developmental psychology
Publication Number3480709

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