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Open Access Publications from the University of California

‘‘The Internet is a Mask’’: High School Students’ Suggestions for Preventing Cyberbullying


Introduction: Interactions through technology have an important impact on today’s youth. While someof these interactions are positive, there are concerns regarding students engaging in negativeinteractions like cyberbullying behaviors and the negative impact these behaviors have on others. Thepurpose of the current study was to explore participant suggestions for both students and adults forpreventing cyberbullying incidents.

Methods: Forty high school students participated in individual, semi-structured interviews. Participantexperiences and perceptions were coded using constant comparative methods to illustrate ways inwhich students and adults may prevent cyberbullying from occurring within their school and community.

Results: Students reported that peers would benefit from increasing online security, as well asbecoming more aware of their cyber-surroundings. Regarding adult-provided prevention services,participants often discussed that there is little adults can do to reduce cyberbullying. Reasons includedthe difficulties in restricting online behaviors or providing effective consequences. However, somestudents did discuss the use of in-school curricula while suggesting that adults blame people ratherthan technology as potential ways to prevent cyberbullying.

Conclusion: Findings from the current study indicate some potential ways to improve adult efforts toprevent cyberbullying. These strategies include parent/teacher training in technology andcyberbullying, interventions focused more on student behavior than technology restriction, and helpingstudents increase their online safety and awareness. [West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(5):587–592.]

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