In an article under review for the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Werner and Bumpus analyzed data collected from more than 300 sixth- and seventh-grade students over a two-year period. The data is part of a larger longitudinal study on school climate and child adjustment.
Some researchers — and pop psychologists — have hypothesized that people who engage in Internet aggression might be those who lack strength or stature in face-to-face encounters and have been victimized by their peers. That wasn’t borne out by the research.
Internet aggression, Werner said, seems to be most closely connected to relational aggression in traditional peer contexts. For instance, adolescents who use exclusion, or threats of exclusion, to manipulate a relationship are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors online.
Soloing in cyberspace tied to poor behaviors
“Maternal Rule-Setting for Children’s Internet Use,” a paper by Matthew Bumpus and Nicole Werner, assistant professors in the department of human development, will be published this spring in the journal Marriage and Family Review.
“We can’t conclude that it is the unsupervised Internet use that is causing those problems,” Bumpus said. “This study is a first step.”
But, he said, it is clear from the evidence that unsupervised use of text messaging, e-mails, chat rooms, instant messaging and other forms of computer-mediated communication are risky.