Understanding Peer Relations: The Relationship Between Cyber Bullying And Emotional Well-Being Of African American Adolescents

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Social Work
Doctor of Philosophy
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between cyber bullying and emotional well-being amongst African American adolescents. Communication with others that once required face-to-face interaction has transitioned to being done through the use of electronic media sources. The use of social media brings numerous positives but it also brings individuals who do not utilize social media appropriately and try to harm others. This form of harassment is defined as cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is most prevalent in adolescents between the ages of 11-15 and typically in their middle school years. With digital media being a new phenomenon that individuals are working to understand, there is limited empirical data that reports the effects on emotional well being as a result of cyber bullying. African American adolescents are the most likely of any group to own a smart phone. Cell phones along with other digital devices are the primary driver of adolescent internet use (Lenhart, 2015). This researcher explored African American adolescents and their response to cyber bullying by being a victim, aggressor, or combined victim/aggressor. The research hypotheses for this study were that there would be significant relationships between Emotional Well-Being and (1) being a victim of cyber bullying, (2) being an aggressor of cyber bullying, (3) being a combined victim/aggressor of cyber bullying, (4) age, (5) gender, and (6) grade. The Theory of Social Presence and Moral Development was utilized to guide this research. T-Test, Chi-Square, and General Linear Model analyses were used to analyze the adolescent's emotional well-being and cyber bullying characteristics and their socio-demographic background. The bivariate analyses indicated a significant relationship between Emotional Well-Being and victim cyber bullying and aggressor cyber bullying. Multivariate analyses were conducted and concluded that victim cyber bullying continued to be significant when controlling for forms of victimization. Results of this study concluded that additional research and programming that support those who could be affected by cyber bullying is warranted to support adolescents and help them remain safe.