Many young adults show more cruelty on Facebook than in everyday life

Feb 18, 2014

Dr Val Hooper, an associate professor and head of Victoria's School of Information Management, guided student research, in which young people aged between 18 and 20 were interviewed to determine what behaviour they regarded as acceptable and unacceptable in social networking.

A large number of respondents admitted that they gauge what is acceptable behaviour online by watching and copying others.

"They will try something and then watch to see to what extent their Facebook friends sanction their behaviour—the reaction they receive determines how they develop their norms of interaction," says Dr Hooper.

Most respondents believed there were differences between the way people behaved offline and on Facebook. The protection of the computer screen and the ability to talk to someone without seeing their facial expressions meant that people felt freer to say what they wanted without worrying about the immediate consequences.

"If you post something hurtful you don't see the hurt in the recipient's eyes," says Dr Hooper. "You also have time to think about how to word your post to have the most powerful impact."

Dr Hooper is concerned about the implications of an online world that does not have strong guidelines in terms of behavioural norms.

"There is potential for what happens online to spin off into the offline environment—in fact we have seen evidence that it is happening. If young people become accustomed to bullying people online, what is to stop them becoming more violent offline as well?"

The study also showed Facebook to offer many benefits, especially for who are striving to establish their identity as young adults. Positive experiences respondents mentioned included being able to catch up with old friends, getting to know people better, and meeting new people.

Most of the respondents' negative experiences were associated with security, privacy and undesirable postings. For instance, the majority of respondents indicated that they didn't want to see information that was too personal, particularly problems and private information such as explicit romantic and sexual details.

People also felt an obligation to befriend people they would normally avoid offline—with many confessing that they had Facebook friends they actually didn't like.

"This has raised some interesting questions that would be worthwhile to explore further," says Dr Hooper. "For instance, if we are supposedly freer online, why is there an obligation to accept unappealing friendship invitations?"

Explore further: New approach to online compatibility

Related Stories

Study: Facebook makes users envious, dissatisfied

Jan 21, 2013

In a joint research study conducted by the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt (Prof. Dr. Peter Buxmann) and the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Dr. Hanna Krasnova), ...

New mums shun Twitter and stick to baby-friendly Facebook

Feb 07, 2014

Although it might sometimes seem that your Facebook feed is overrun with chatter about babies, research from Microsoft has suggested that mums actually spend less time on the site after they have had children. And w ...

Facebook: The new self-help

Jan 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Writing on Facebook isn't merely the act of a narcissist - in fact, it's based on an age-old practice that helps people understand and improve themselves, a QUT media researcher said.

Recommended for you

New approach to online compatibility

13 hours ago

Many of the online social networks match users with each other based on common keywords and assumed shared interests based on their activity. A new approach that could help users find new friends and contacts with a greater ...

Most internet anonymity software leaks users' details

Jun 29, 2015

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are legal and increasingly popular for individuals wanting to circumvent censorship, avoid mass surveillance or access geographically limited services like Netflix and BBC ...

WikiLeaks says NSA spied on French business

Jun 29, 2015

WikiLeaks has released documents that it says show that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on France's top finance officials and high-stakes French export bids over a decade in what the group called targeted economic ...

Google gets extended deadline to answer EU case

Jun 29, 2015

Brussels has given Google an extension until mid-August to answer an anti-trust case alleging that the tech giant abuses its search engine's market dominance, a company spokesman said Monday.

Facebook opens first Africa office

Jun 29, 2015

Facebook announced Monday it had opened its first African office in Johannesburg as part of its efforts "to help people and businesses connect" on the continent.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Aloken
3 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2014
If young people become accustomed to bullying people online, what is to stop them becoming more violent offline as well?


The same thing that keeps them from bullying people offline, reactions, consequences, punishment. Such messed up logic, just trying to scare people into believing him.

For instance, if we are supposedly freer online, why is there an obligation to accept unappealing friendship invitations


For the same reason, real life consequences. A person you might avoid offline could approach you if you reject them online, so you just accept the invite and be done with it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.