Perceived Peer Pressure and Need For Popularity as Predictors of Adolescents’ Use of the Mobile Phone for Making Hurtful Pictures and Videos of Peers and Teachers
Authors: Vanden Abeele, Mariek
Van Cleemput, Katrien
Issue Date: 21-Mar-2013
Conference: Youth 2.0 location:Antwerp date:20-22 March 2013
Abstract: In only 15 years, mobile phones have evolved from basic communication technologies to high-tech multi-media devices that are fully integrated into adolescents’ daily lives. Although appraised for the greater autonomy they bring to adolescents in the support of their social relationships (Ling & Yttri, 2006), these multi-media devices also afford them to engage in new, aggravated forms of bullying that rely on the production and distribution of hurtful pictures and videos. The extant literature on adolescent mobile phone use suggests that adolescents use their mobile phones to negotiate peer group dynamics (Caronia and Caron, 2004; Ling & Yttri, 2006). Socially and normatively deviant behaviors in particular (such as sexting or mobile porn use) have already been found to serve as a means to establish or enhance adolescents’ position in the peer group (Ling, 2005; Bond, 2010; Ringrose et al., 2012). The purpose of this study is to examine whether the practice of making hurtful pictures/videos of peers and teachers can also be explained from peer group dynamics.
Previous literature on offline bullying and aggression already points towards the importance of peer group dynamics in explaining the occurrence of these behaviors. Coercive behaviors towards peers, then, serve as a way of demonstrating social dominance over them and thereby achieving popularity (Ahn, Garandeau and Rodkin, 2010; Andreou, 2006; Closson, 2009; Hawley, 2003; Hoff et al., 2009; Robertson et al., 2010). In research on cyberbullying, the social contexts in which these practices occur remain largely unexplored (until recently, see: Festl & Quandt, 2011; Gradinger, Strohmeier, Schiller, Stefanek, & Spiel, 2012)). As it is more and more confirmed in research that cyberbullying occurs mostly between adolescents who know each other from pre-existing ‘real-life’ social contexts, taking into account peer dynamics is necessary to get a better understanding of this behavior. Moreover, little attention has gone out to the (cyber-)bullying of teachers. Previous studies on perceived popularity indicate, however, that perceived popular teens oftentimes display anti-authoritative behavior in the classroom and act defiantly towards teachers as a means to enhance their position in the peer group (de Bruyn & Cillessen, 2006). Peer group dynamics may thus also predict whether teens use the camera-capacity of their phone to bully their teachers.
In the current study, we examined two aspects of peer group dynamics in relation to the making and distributing hurtful pictures/videos of peers and teachers: adolescents’ need for popularity (H1) and perceived peer pressure (H2). We investigated our hypotheses by conducting a quantitative survey among 1943 adolescents (50.6% males, Mage = 15.28, SD = 1.89). We asked respondents how frequently they had used their mobile phone in the past 6 months to (1) make a picture/video of a peer to ridicule him/her, (2) to make a picture/video of a peer who is physically bullied/beaten, (3) to distribute this kind of picture/video over the Internet (e.g., via e-mail, SNS, youtube), (4) to make a picture/video of a teacher to ridicule him/her, (5) to distribute this kind of picture/video over the Internet (e.g., via e-mail, SNS, youtube). Perceived peer pressure (α = .75) and need for popularity (α = .77) were measured with validated scales (REF). Gender, age, school track, school attitude, academic self-concept, general self-concept and social self-concept were included as control variables.
Results generally supported our hypotheses for each of the five dependent variables: adolescents who perceive greater peer pressure (H1) and who have a greater need for popularity (H2) were significantly more likely to have made and distributed hurtful pictures/videos of their peers and of their teachers. Somewhat different profiles were found, however, for boys and girls, as perceived peer pressure did not predict these behaviors for girls. Moreover, the effect of adolescents’ school experiences on the outcome measures strongly decreased after entering perceived peer pressure and need for popularity into the equation, which suggests a possible mediation effect of peer group dynamics.
The findings of our study point towards peer group dynamics as an important factor in explaining this aggravated form of cyberbullying.
Publication status: published
KULeuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections: Leuven School for Mass Communication Research