*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.
Adolescents who perceive their parents to be loving and supportive are less likely to engage in cyberbullying, according to a new study by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Bullying Prevention, are especially relevant given changes in family life created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With remote learning replacing classroom instruction for many young people, and cell phones and social media standing in for face-to-face interaction with friends, there are more opportunities for cyberbullying to occur,” said Laura Grunin, a doctoral student at NYU Meyers and the study’s lead author. “New family dynamics and home stressors are also at play, thanks to higher unemployment rates and more parents working from home.”
More than half of U.S. teens report having experience with cyberbullying, or online behavior that may involve harassment, insults, threats, or spreading rumors.
“Understanding what factors are related to a young person’s cyberbullying of peers is important for developing ways that families, schools, and communities can prevent bullying or intervene when it occurs,” said Sally S. Cohen, clinical professor at NYU Meyers and the study’s senior author.
Using data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Behavior in School-Aged Children survey, the researchers analyzed responses from 12,642 U.S. pre-teens and teens (ages 11 to 15 years old) surveyed in 2009-2010, the most recent WHO data on school-aged children collected in the United States. The adolescents were asked about their bullying behaviors, as well as their perceptions of certain family characteristics, including their relationship with their parents.
The researchers found that the more adolescents perceived their parents as loving, the less likely they were to engage in cyberbullying. When asked if their parents are loving, youth who said “almost never” were over six times more likely to engage in high levels of cyberbullying than those who answered that their parent is “almost always” loving. Other types of emotional support, including how much teens feel their parents help and understand them, also contributed to the likelihood of whether young people engaged in cyberbullying behavior.