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Cyberbullying Victimization, Connectedness, and Online Monitoring: Parental Figures as Protective

Thu, April 12, 8:30 to 10:00am, Hilton, Floor: Third Floor, Minneapolis Grand Ballroom-Salon C


Being cyberbullied is associated with internalizing behaviors such as anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation (Kowalski & Limber, 2013). Warm parent-child relationships are negatively related to cyberbullying; parental monitoring is also protective (Elsaesser, 2017). Few studies examine parent-child connectedness and monitoring concurrently with respect to cyberbullying. Our goal was to inform prevention efforts by examining concurrent associations between cyberbullying victimization and these potential protective factors. We expected that connectedness with a parent or parental figure would be negatively related to cyberbullying victimization and also hypothesized that both general and online forms of monitoring would be independently related to cyberbullying victimization, controlling for connectedness and demographics. We also explored potential moderating effects of gender, answering a recent call to understand differential effects of gender with respect to cyberbullying (Navarro, 2016).

Data were collected from the longitudinal Partnering for Healthy Student Outcomes study. Sixth graders were recruited from three schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan (N = 570). Participants were 48.7% female; 1.9% reported being American Indian, 13.7% Asian, 20.2% Black, 20.4% Latino, 22.7% White, and 21.1% multiracial. Nearly two-thirds (65.7%) received free/reduced-price lunch.

Cyberbullying victimization was measured by asking, “During the last 30 days, how often have you been bullied online through social media, email, texting, websites, video games, photos/videos, or instant messaging?” (Minnesota Student Survey, 2013). Responses were dichotomized to “never” versus “ever” reporting victimization. Parental connectedness was measured by a 3-item scale; e.g. “In my home, there is a parent or some other adult who talks to me about my problems” (1= not at all true; 4 = very true; α = .73; California Healthy Kids Survey, 2015). Two single items measured general and online parental monitoring: “In my home, there is a parent or some other adult who asks me about what I do in my free time” and “…who asks me about things I do online” (1= not at all true; 4 = very true; California Healthy Kids Survey, 2015). Controls included gender, race/ethnicity, family structure (two biological parents), and free/reduced-price lunch participation.

Stepwise logistic regression models from the second wave of data were estimated, using a clustering adjustment to account for students nested within schools. Then moderation by gender was tested for parent connectedness and monitoring.

In Model 1, students who felt connected to a parent/parental figure were less likely to report cyberbullying victimization, as were male students (see Table). In Model 2, the effect of parental online monitoring was marginally significant, and remained so when parent connectedness was added back into Model 3. Two significant interaction terms were noted. Gender moderated relationships between parental connectedness and cyberbullying victimization (OR = 1.34, SD = 0.05, p < .001) and between online monitoring and cyberbullying victimization (OR = 1.24, SD = .11, p = .013; see Figure). Protective effects of connectedness and online monitoring were stronger for girls than boys. Findings suggest prevention of cyberbullying victimization should focus on strengthening parent-child connectedness. Online monitoring may also be important to prevent online peer victimization, particularly among girls.


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