Original Research

Emotional and academic effects of cyberbullying on students in a rural high school in the Limpopo province, South Africa

Parvaneh Farhangpour, Cynthia Maluleke, Humbulani N. Mutshaeni
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 21, No 1 | a925 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v21i1.925 | © 2019 Parvaneh Farhangpour, Cynthia Maluleke, Humbulani N. Mutshaeni | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 November 2017 | Published: 20 March 2019

About the author(s)

Parvaneh Farhangpour, Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Cynthia Maluleke, School of Human and Social Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa
Humbulani N. Mutshaeni, Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The overwhelming use of Internet and social media among the youth in South Africa causes both negative and positive effects on the users. Cyberbullying is one manifestation of such negative effects. Rural high school students are not immune to this modern age social problem. To protect them against the possible hazards, it is important to study this phenomenon among this group of young poeple.

Objectives: This study explored the extent of the use of Internet and social media, the forms and frequency of cyberbullying and their effects on the emotional well-being and academic performance of grades 8–10 students in a rural high school in Limpopo, South Africa.

Method: This study used a mixed research approach. Eighty participants consisting of 50 females and 30 males from grades 8 to 10 in a rural high school participated in this survey and 6 purposefully selected victims of cyberbullying completed an interview schedule.

Results: The majority of participants had access to cyber technology and used Facebook frequently. More than half of the participants experienced a wide variety of cyberbullying, sexual offence being the highest. They were negatively affected both emotionally and academically to the extent that some thought of suicide.

Conclusion: Even though students in this rural high school have access to the latest cyber technology, they are not equipped to prevent or cope with its negative effects; hence, they suffer in solitude. The study recommends an anti-cyberbullying policy being established, as well as counselling at school, and advises stakeholders who intend to expand e-learning at schools to include cyber safety and supportive mechanisms in their programmes for successful implementation.


Keywords

cyber sexual offensive; off-line bullying; suicidal thoughts; ghost audience; cyber technology

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