Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Richard Maurer

Second Supervisor

Frances G. Wills

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to understand the reasoning behind the evolution of cyberbullies through the misuse of social media sites. The study addressed research questions concerning the reasons why middle school adolescents turn to social media sites to bully their peers. Cyberbullying is increasing due to the overwhelming use of the Internet by adolescents. The Pew Internet and American Life Project (2008) reports that 89% of boys and 95% of girls have sent or received email, 56% of girls, and 55% of boys have visited chat rooms while three fourths of teenagers reported spending 30 to 60 minutes texting their friends. The researcher conducted a phenomenological qualitative study on middle school adolescents using interviews. The research questions (RQ) used in the individual interviews tested the disinhibition, dissociative anonymity, and social dominance theories revealing characteristics in adolescent bullies of deindividuation and desensitization in the evolution of cyberbullies. Data analysis and findings suggested that participants felt empowered or “in control” using social media sites to bully as very apparent in the primary themes that emerged from each participant’s responses. In RQ1, five primary themes emerged from participants’ interview responses: (a) negatively affect, (b) easier than face-to-face, (c) social acceptance, (d) power, (e) building self-esteem, and (f) think of others. Three primary themes emerged in RQ2 from participants’ responses: (a) matter-of-fact, (b) easier than face-to-face, and (c) in control. Three primary themes emerged in RQ3 from participants’ interview responses: (a) destroy their character, (b) notoriety, and (c) building up own self-esteem. vi

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