Young peoples' use of social networking sites: their perspectives of cyberbullying issues and recommendations for suitable interventions

Simon Leslie Edwards, Victoria Wang

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report presents the findings from a research study carried out across two secondary schools and a youth organisation in Sussex between June 2014 and July 2015. The study, carried out in two stages, responds to concerns raised by colleagues in each organisation about their perceived increase in cyberbullying incidents on prominent social networking sites (sns).

The first stage of the study, carried out between July and September 2014, was a quantitative exploration designed to help create a basic outline of young people’s socialising and relationship building practices on eight prominent sns. The second stage, carried out between June and July 2015, used a series of semi-structured focus groups and scenario analyses to explore young people’s communications in a range of behaviours and relationships on the eight sns. This stage also explored the most appropriate interventions, which the young people thought would support them when issues arise, which might otherwise be placed under the umbrella term of cyberbullying by teachers and other adults.

The findings show that the use of sns provides young people with the opportunity to simultaneously manage different categories of relationships within the sns available. Issues, which might be viewed as cyberbullying on the sns by adults, primarily support or protect those with whom relationships have been carefully established as part of their self-identities.

Furthermore, central to the young people’s behaviours on these sns is a sense of self- governance; that is, where each young person is responsible for a) maintaining their self- narrative; b) ensuring their actions either do not restrict a peer’s attaining this goal; and c) ensuring their peers’ actions do not restrict others attaining this goal.

The findings challenge current trends towards increased online surveillance and zero tolerance policies in favour of creating safe spaces with trusted adults with whom the young people can resolve their relationship issues face to face. We recommend further research is carried out, which works with young people to develop a more supportive, collaborative range of interventions, which enable young people to manage their own relationships on sns.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
Commissioning bodyElectric Storm Youth Ltd
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016


  • Cyberbullying
  • social networking sites


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