Fascinating New Cyberbullying Research

Cyberbullying, online bullying, teens online, internet, cyberpsychology, emosocial intelligenceI like to post about interesting new studies that are relevant for parents of teens and tweens. A study that just came out called, “Are cyberbullies less empathic? Adolescents’ cyberbullying behavior and empathic responsiveness” in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking journal addressed some new advances in cyberbullying.

Here are the two important findings:

  • This study found that cyberbullies demonstrated less empathic responsiveness than non-cyberbullies.
  • This study also found that cyberbullies were also more afraid of becoming victims of cyberbullying. 

The findings confirm and substantially extend the research on the relationship between empathy and aggressive behavior. What does this mean for parents, adults and teachers who work with teens and tweens? We must invest more time and energy into training young people in their empathy skills. Second, we also have to address fear in cyberbullies themselves. This is an interesting parellel to bullying–school yard bullies are often mean to others so that no one is mean to them.

I believe we have to teach EmoSocial intelligence in schools which is a combination of empathy training with emotional and social intelligence. It is a person’s ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself and then be able to effectively interact, maintain and build relationships with others.

Teaching social literacy involves teaching young people communication and social skills, as well as showing them how to effectively and purposefully mediate their interactions with family members, friends and colleagues in the school or business environment. Some of examples of social literacy issues might include lack of eye contact, understanding angry feelings versus fear or being able to deal successfully with confrontation.

Why is it Important?

EmoSocial intelligence is important on a number of different levels. First, as this study shows we become more and more technologically savvy, we interact with each other less and less. Using emosocial skills helps prevent against bullying as young people learn to express themselves correctly, handle friendship miscommunications and interact in person, not just through their devices. Second, being emosocially intelligent can help with family communication in the home. Teaching family members how to read their each other and ask for what they need can bring harmony into the home. Lastly, as young people enter adulthood, being able to understand and express their own emotions is essential for their personal development, self-esteem and identity.

Why We Must Teach Social Skills in School  This article is a call to all of us to begin to think about how social illiteracy is effecting the next generation and how we can counteract the negative effects and build the positive ones.

If you liked this article check out our series on the Science of Social Interaction and the Science of Families.
Steffgen, G., König, A, et al. (2011). Are cyberbullies less empathic? Adolescents’ cyberbullying behavior and empathic responsiveness. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Available online May 9.

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