Tertiary students’ perceptions of the impact of cyberbullying on their identity.

Osman, Fazeelah (2018-03)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT :In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the role cyberbullying plays in the psychological well-being of people. While cyberbullying is a well-researched topic internationally and nationally, few studies have researched the effects cyberbullying may have on identity development. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions tertiary students hold about cyberbullying, and the impact that it may have on identity development within a South African context. The recent upsurge of the digital age in South Africa has not only paved the way in which people communicate and interact socially, but also plays a pivotal role in the development of a person’s identity. Adolescents and emerging adults utilize instant messaging, text messaging, cellular phones, emails, and social-media platforms to communicate with people, to gain knowledge and keep up to date with what is happening in society and the world. Social-media platforms, in particular, have been identified as the most favorable means of communication because it provides instant and constant connectivity. These new channels of communication and instant connection can often be regarded as advantageous. However, it also has the power to abuse and incur psychological and emotional upset, which in turn can make people vulnerable. These experiences can be recognized as cyberbullying. A social constructivist framework grounded this study and was used to shed light on the findings. The focus of using this lens was to present the participants meaning-making and illustrate how participants’ realities and identities may be shaped through their experiences of either being cyberbullied or witnessing it first-hand. In using a qualitative approach, participants were selected by means of purposeful and snowball sampling. The criteria that needed to be met, stipulated that the participants had to be postgraduate university students. Data was collected by means of individual semi-structured interviews and a focus group session. Seven participants participated in the individual semistructured interviews and three participants participated in the focus group session. The data that was gathered, was analyzed through a thematic analysis where seven main themes emerged. These themes included narratives around cyberbullying, bullying, social-media platforms, the role of support the role of the bystander/witness, identity development in the different life phases and intervention and prevention strategies. The research findings suggested that cyberbullying is a common problem that emerging adults experience and witness. The participants conveyed several factors that, in their opinions, maintain cyberbullying and also highlighted its perceived effects. Furthermore, the participants shared their understanding of how perceived effects of cyberbullying may impact identity development. In addition to this, participants suggested a few strategies on how to deal with cyberbullying more effectively.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Daar is tans ‘n groeiende belangstelling in die rol wat kuberboeliery in die sielkundige welstand van mense speel. Terwyl kuberboeliery internasionaal en nasionaal ‘n goednagevorsde onderwerp is, is daar min navorsing oor die invloed wat kuberboeliery op die ontwikkeling van identiteit kan hê. Die doel van hierdie studie was om die persepsies wat tersiêre studente van kuberboeliery het en die impak wat dit op identiteitsontwikkeling binne ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks kan hê, te verken. Die onlangse opkoms van die digitale era in Suid-Afrika het nie net die manier waarop mense kommunikeer en sosiaal verkeer vergemaklik nie, maar speel ook ‘n sentrale rol in die ontwikkeling van ‘n persoon se identiteit. Adolessente en groeiende volwassenes maak gebruik van kitsboodskappe, teksboodskappe, selfone, eposse en sosiale-media om met andere te kommunikeer, kennis in te win en op hoogte te bly met wat in die samelewing en wêreld gebeur. Sosiale media is spesifiek geïdentifiseer as die gewildste kommunikasiemiddel omdat dit vinnige en voortdurende koppeling bewerkstellig. Hierdie nuwe kommunikasiekanale en vinnige koppelings word dikwels as voordelig beskou. Dit het egter ook die mag om sielkundige en emosionele onrus te veroorsaak en misbruik te word, en dit laat mense weerloos. Sulke ervarings staan bekend as kuberboeliery. Hierdie studie is gegrond op ‘n sosiale konstruktivistiese raamwerk en is aangewend om lig te werp op die bevindings. Die fokus deur hierdie spesifieke lens was om die sin wat deelnemers maak uit hulle ervarings te verwoord en om te illustreer hoe die deelnemers se realiteite en identiteite gevorm kan word deur hulle ervarings van óf kuberboeliery óf deur direkte ooggetuienis daarvan. Deur ‘n kwalitatiewe benadering te volg is deelnemers uitgesoek deur middel van doelgerigte en sneeubalsteekproefneming. Die kriteria waaraan voldoen moes word, het bepaal dat die deelnemers nagraadse universiteitstudente moes wees. Data is versamel deur middel van individuele semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en ‘n fokusgroepsessie. Sewe studente het deelgeneem aan die individuele semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en drie aan die fokusgroepsessie. Die data wat ingesamel is, is deur middel van ‘n tematiese analise ontleed waar sewe hooftemas uitgestaan het. Hierdie temas het mededelings van kuberboeliery, boeliery, sosiale media, die rol van ondersteuning, die rol van die toekyker/getuie en identiteitsontwikkeling in die verskillende fases ingesluit. Die bevindings het bewys dat kuberboeliery ‘n algemene probleem is wat deur opkomende volwassenes ondervind word en waarvan hulle getuies is. Die deelnemers het ‘n paar faktore genoem wat volgens hulle menings kuberboeliery laat voortbestaan en het ook hulle waargenome invloede daarvan beklemtoon. Verder het die deelnemers hulle begrip van hoe waargenome invloede van kuberboeliery identiteitsontwikkeling kan beïnvloed, uitgespreek. Die deelnemers het ook ‘n paar strategieë voorgestel van hoe om kuberboeliery meer effektief te hanteer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103331
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