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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Youth perspectives on cyberbullying and social media platforms : teen agency, interactivity, and social cognition Chris-Iwuru, Kesiena

Abstract

This research examines how social media platforms have reconfigured traditional notions of social interaction and specifically how a sample of youth view these platforms in light of problems with cyberbullying. The research design included two primary questions: 1) How do social media platforms reconfigure social interaction and means by which youth perceive and understand these platforms? 2) What role does social cognition play in youth perspectives of online identities and interactions in relation to cyberbullying? The participants included nine Grades 10-12 students (4 males and 5 females), aged between 16-21 years. The research site was an independent high school located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. Actor-network theory and optimal distinctive theory (Brewer, 1991; Latour, 2005) formed the theoretical perspective for analyzing, discussing and the presentation of the research study findings. Data were collected through ethnographic techniques, including observations, artefacts (documents, etc.), and interviews (focus group). The following thematic findings were derived from data analysis: Interacting with and through content; Connectedness and reduced telepresence; Platform-culture; Growing up online; Assemblage: Self as assimilated; Assemblage: Identity as fluid and layered; External observer: Recalling social schema; Immersed-bystanders: Imposing social schema; and Aggressive coping to the self as target. Given a separate parallel state of identity, users are challenged to maintain acceptable or appropriate behaviour. The findings of this study provide helpful insights into why online antisocial behaviour and cyberbullying become pervasive and toxic. The implications and significance of the research findings have relevance for educators on how best to engage and understand teenagers in these spaces, with new and effective measures to examine instances of conflict and antisocial behaviour online. For social media companies and startups, it provides an insight into the nuanced mode and context of interaction prevalent within these platforms and the resulting impact on how individuals, the collective, and the platform itself all exert influence on each other.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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