Date of Award

10-30-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communications Media

First Advisor

Allen Partridge, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jay Start, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Beth Rajan Sockman, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze the extent and impact that cyberbullying has on the undergraduate college student and provide a current definition for the event. A priori power analysis guided this research to provide an 80 percent probability of detecting a real effect with medium effect size. Adequate research power was essential to create a valid understanding of what traditional undergraduate college students experience when interacting with social media and cellular technology. The 60-item survey (Cronbach's α = .761) underwent extensive reliability and validity testing and was distributed via QualtricsTM. A simple random, cross-sectional sample of 438 students, aged 18 to 24, was analyzed using descriptive, correlation, and independent samples t tests. The theoretical foundation was the Social Dominance Theory, utilized to determine the impact of social dominance ordinance (SDO) on the act of cyberbullying. The studies primary purpose was to determine the extent and emotional impact of cyberbullying on participants to formulate a reliable definition for future research. In addition, the influence of the extent of social media and hand-held technology use and its impact on specific subsections of participants was evaluated. Findings supported the concern expressed by past researchers regarding the definition of cyberbullying and allowed this researcher to present a more inclusive and decisive definition for future studies. In addition, minimal correlation was noted between the extent of using communication technology and being cyberbullied. Examination of the impact on non-heterosexual participants indicated a higher percentage of cyberbullying for non-heterosexuals for each of the fourteen items queried. Finally, post hoc analysis provided a statistically significant difference in gender and being cyberbullied. From this study, the researcher has gained an in-depth understanding of what the undergraduate college student experiences via technology, as they pursue their educational goals on the college campus.

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