Exposure to cyberbullying as a bystander : an investigation of desensitization effects among early adolescents
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Computers in human behavior. - Elmsford, N.Y.
, p. 480-487
University of Antwerp
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 1013. 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.