Internet Visibility and Cyberbullying: A Survey of Cape Town High School Students

Scholtz, Brenda
Van Turha, Tracy
Johnston, Kevin
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
The pervasive and open nature of the Internet in the everyday lives of South African children has facilitated benefits such as increased collaboration,learning opportunities and access to knowledge (A2K). However, the online environment’s increased visibility has at the same time provided new ways for children to bully each other, and the evidence in the available literature suggests that online bullying – “cyberbullying” – may result in more harmful consequences than offline variants of such behaviour. This article provides findings from an online survey of cyberbullying experiences among a sample of high school students aged 15 to 21 years in the city of Cape Town. The survey found clear evidence of cyberbullying, as reported by both victims and perpetrators, and it was found that social networking sites (SNSs) were the online spaces most-used for cyberbullying, followed by short message service (SMS) platforms. Among perpetrators, 19% reported that they cyberbullied once or twice a week and 10% said they cyberbullied every day or almost every day. The survey also uncovered gender differences in the length of time it took for victims of cyberbullying to put the incidents behind them, with more females than males taking a long time (i.e., a few weeks, or a month or two or more) to stop feeling “bothered” by the incident. The authors conclude that the findings show a need for improved efforts, in schools and in student households, towards building learners’,parents’ and teachers’ e-safety awareness and capacity for preventative action.
cyberbullying, online risks, children, South Africa
Scholtz, B., Van Turha, T., & Johnston, K. (2015). Internet visibility and cyberbullying: A survey of Cape Town high school students. The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), 15, 93-104.