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Keywords:

  • bullying;
  • information technology;
  • school psychology

BACKGROUND: This article examines the relationship between middle school students' experience with cyberbullying and their level of self-esteem. Previous research on traditional bullying among adolescents has found a relatively consistent link between victimization and lower self-esteem, while finding an inconsistent relationship between offending and lower self-esteem. It is therefore important to extend this body of research by determining how bullying augmented through the use of technology (such as computers and cell phones) is linked to differing levels of self-esteem.

METHODS: During March and April 2007, a random sample of 1963 middle school students (mean age 12.6) from 30 schools in one of the largest school districts in the United States completed a self-report survey of Internet use and cyberbullying experiences.

RESULTS: This work found that students who experienced cyberbullying, both as a victim and an offender, had significantly lower self-esteem than those who had little or no experience with cyberbullying.

CONCLUSIONS: A moderate and statistically significant relationship exists between low self-esteem and experiences with cyberbullying. As such, bullying prevention programs incorporated in school curricula should also include substantive instruction on cyberbullying. Moreover, educators need to intervene in cyberbullying incidents, as failure to do so may impact the ability of students to be successful at school.