Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Palczewski


Cyber-bullying, social media, adolescence, cyberspace, online bullying, secondary school bullying


The author conducted a qualitative analysis of student artifacts to explore the pathway and experiences of students who had never bullied in the traditional sense but had cyber bullied through the use of social networking sites. In addition, the author explored students’ understanding of the difference between traditional and cyber bullying and their perceptions of the victim receiving the online bullying messages. A transcendental phenomenological approach was employed. The student artifacts analyzed were assignments from a required ninth grade character education class, which included a self-reflective survey, journals, a six-paragraph paper, and an online photo story project.

Results indicated that students had a sound understanding of the difference between traditional and cyber bullying. They were able to clearly articulate some major differences between the two types of bullying. However, students were split on which type of bullying was worse. Their personal experiences with bullying, in either form, did not seem to be an indicator of how their opinion was formulated.

The study revealed three possible pathways by which a student who had never bullied in the traditional sense became a cyber bully. These pathways included: entertainment, revenge, or protection of a friend. The experiences of being a cyber bully varied based on the pathway taken. Many students indicated feeling a sense of regret after engagement; however, students also reported feeling good, powerful, or a sense of indifference.

This study suggests areas where school officials, teachers, and parents could become more aware of and actively involved in the prevention of cyber bullying. Understanding the paths that students took in becoming an online bully helps to target areas of importance as it pertains to school policy and intervention strategies. For parents, it sheds light on the critical role they could play in preventing their children from engaging in this negative behavior.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Education Commons