Virtual Anti-Bullying Village Project for Coping with Bullying and Cyberbullying within a 3d Virtual Learning Environment: Evaluation Research

By Olenik-Shemesh, Dorit; Heiman, Tali et al. | International Journal of Cyber Society and Education, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Virtual Anti-Bullying Village Project for Coping with Bullying and Cyberbullying within a 3d Virtual Learning Environment: Evaluation Research


Olenik-Shemesh, Dorit, Heiman, Tali, Rabin, Eyal, International Journal of Cyber Society and Education


INTRODUCTION

Cyberbullying and Bullying among Adolescents

Adolescents face peer bullying and peer-aggressive behavior at many junctions in their daily lives, and these incidents may take many forms and contexts. Much psychological and sociological research attention has focused on this issue (Monks & Coyne, 2011). According to Monks and Coyne, although peer bullying is usually associated with aggression in schools, and particularly on the playground, it is also observed in a wide range of settings including social settings, and encompasses preschool, school, home, residential care, and, in recent years, cyberspace. Aside from the many advantages of online behavior and interactions for adolescents, such as deepening social connections, having access to massive knowledge and entertainment, exchanging information, and more (Tokunaga, 2010), we are facing a new, "modern" form of bullying, which occurs on the net: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying (CB) is defined as the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. It is an aggression carried out using electronic forms of contact, and is characterized as being intentional, repeated, and power-imbalanced (Nicol & Fleming, 2010; Ortega, Calmaestra, & Mora-Merchán, 2008; Smith et al., 2008; Sticca & Perren, 2013).

CB consists of three main criteria: (1) The actions take place on the net by a perpetrator with intent to harm, and the victim subsequently perceives these actions as harmful; (2) the action has a pattern of recurrence or repetition; and (3) the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is unequal, with the former having an advantage over the latter (Smith et al., 2008). Involvement in CB may be divided into three distinct groups of participants: perpetrators, victims, and witnesses (Nicol & Fleming, 2010). CB can take a variety of forms: phone calls, texts or videos, picture messages, emails, chats in chatrooms, via instant messenger, "slam books" on social network sites, through digital online games, within virtual environments (e.g., SL), and in blogs (Smith et ak, 2008; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004). Studies in Europe, the United States, and Canada indicate that approximately 20% of teenagers (aged 12-18) have reported repeated experiences of CB (Mishna et ak, 2010; Vandebosch & Van Cleemput, 2009; Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004). In a study conducted in 2011 among 600 Israeli adolescents, 16% reported being cyber victims, 12% reported being cyber bullies, and 32.6% reported being witnesses to CB (Olenik-Shemesh, Heiman & Eden, 2012). Studies show that the harassment and violence that children and youth are exposed to on the Internet are correlated with and affected by well-being, loneliness, low self-esteem, and low self-efficacy (Brighi et ak, 2012; Navarro, 2013; SAHIN, 2012; Ybarra et ak, 2006). Therefore, the need for effective tools for coping and confronting CB is urgent and salient (Kowalski, Morgan, & Limber, 2012; Ybarra, 2004). In spite of the fact that CB is a version of bullying and shares many similarities with traditional bullying, it is still a unique new phenomenon, sometimes considered more harmful than traditional bullying (Sticca & Perren, 2013), that takes place in the digital world. As such, it may require a unique prevention and intervention program that takes into consideration the new platforms that bullying has taken and that thus relates to the online environment. Despite CB's differences and unique features, it remains a version of bullying, and demands educational and coping means that can combat bullying, but via a different approach. Indeed, 3D environments suggest such a way.

3D Virtual Learning Environments (3DVLE) as an Educational

Tool According to Prensky (2010), youth and children today are considered "digital natives" because they have grown up with digital technologies such as computers, the Internet, and mobile phones. …

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