Exposure to cyberbullying as a bystander: An investigation of desensitization effects among early adolescents

Sara Pabian*, Heidi Vandebosch, Karolien Poels, Katrien Van Cleemput, Sara Bastiaensens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine whether (repeated) exposure to cyberbullying as a bystander has an impact on early adolescents' moral evaluations in terms of a decrease in empathy and a shift towards a more tolerant attitude towards cyberbullying. A two-wave panel study with a 6-month time interval was conducted among a sample of 1412 adolescents aged 10-13. Cross-lagged panel analysis was used to investigate relationships over time between being a bystander of cyberbullying, empathic responsiveness towards distressed others, and the attitude towards cyberbullying, while taking into account involvement in cyberbullying as a victim or a perpetrator. The results indicate a negative relationship between standing by at Time 1 and empathic responsiveness at Time 2. In other words, exposure to cyberbullying as a bystander at Time 1 predicted subsequent lower levels of empathic responsiveness at Time 2. The attitude towards cyberbullying at Time 2 was not influenced by seeing more cyberbullying acts at Time 1. Further implications of the results for prevention and intervention, and for future research are discussed. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-487
Number of pages8
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cyberbullying
  • Bystander
  • Desensitization
  • Empathy
  • Attitude
  • REAL-LIFE
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL DESENSITIZATION
  • COGNITIVE EMPATHY
  • PLANNED BEHAVIOR
  • SCHOOL-STUDENTS
  • MEDIA VIOLENCE
  • VIDEO GAMES
  • INTERVENTION
  • ASSOCIATIONS
  • METAANALYSIS

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