Cyber-aggression and victimization and social information processing: Integrating the medium and the message
American Psychological Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Child Health Promotion Research Centre
Objective: To theoretically examine how the functional properties of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) may potentially influence social information processing (SIP) relevant to cyber-aggression and victimization (CAV), and the opportunities for aggression and victimization that these new technologies provide. Results: Our conceptual analysis highlights multiple functional properties of ICTs that provide opportunities for CAV, and implicates new social norms arising around use of ICTs that may also distinguish online from offline aggression and victimization. These include the paucity and/or permanence of social cues, the deployment of substitute cues (e.g., emoticons), ambiguity around intentions of communicators and around perceptions of privacy and audience, and the removal of response inhibitors resulting from continuous access to ICTs. Conclusions: Our analysis provides a useful heuristic device and reveals a need for innovative research to better examine how features of ICTs modulate social information processing to increase (or decrease) the likelihood of cyber-aggression and victimization. The consideration of SIP in understanding CAV opens important avenues for future empirical inquiry.