Journal: Journal of youth and adolescence
Previous research suggests a link between the quality of teacher-student relationships and the students' behavioral outcomes; however, the observational nature of past studies makes it difficult to attribute a causal role to the quality of these relationships. In the current study, therefore, we used a propensity score analysis approach to evaluate whether students who were matched on their propensity to experience a given level of relationship quality but differed on their actual relationship quality diverged on their concurrent and subsequent problem and prosocial behavior. Student/self, teacher, and parent- (only waves 1-3) reported data from 8 waves of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youths (z-proso), a longitudinal study of Swiss youth among a culturally diverse sample of 7- to 15-year-olds were utilized. The initial sample included 1483 (49.4 % female) students for whom information relevant for this study was available. The sample represented families from around 80 different countries, from across all the continents; with approximately 42 % of the female primary caregivers having been born in Switzerland. Following successful matching, we found that students who reported better relationships with their teachers and whose teachers reported better relationships with them evidenced fewer problem behaviors concurrently and up to 4 years later. There was also evidence for an analogous effect in predicting prosocial behavior. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to prevention and intervention practices.
Sexual harassment is commonly considered unwanted sexual attention and a form of gender-based violence that can take physical, verbal and visual forms and it is assumed to cause later depression in adolescents. There is a dearth of research explicitly testing this assumption and the directional pathway remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to use a feminist theoretical framework to test competing models in respect of the direction of the relationships between dimensions of peer sexual harassment victimization and dimensions of depressive symptoms from ages 14 to 16 in adolescents. The study also aimed to investigate gender differences in these pathways. Cross-lagged models were conducted using a three-wave (2010, 2011 and 2012) longitudinal study of 2330 students (51 % females) from Sweden, adjusted for social background. Girls subjected to sexual harassment in grade seven continued to experience sexual harassment the following 2 years. There was weaker evidence of repeated experience of sexual harassment among boys. Depressive symptoms were stable over time in both genders. Sexual name-calling was the dimension that had the strongest associations to all dimensions of depressive symptoms irrespective of gender. In girls, name-calling was associated with later somatic symptoms and negative affect, while anhedonia (reduced ability to experience pleasure) preceded later name-calling. Physical sexual harassment had a reciprocal relationship to somatic symptoms in girls. In boys, name-calling was preceded by all dimensions of depressive symptoms. It is an urgent matter to prevent sexual harassment victimization, as it is most likely to both cause depressive symptoms or a reciprocal cycle of victimization and depression symptoms in girls as well as boys.
The effects of video games on children’s psychosocial development remain the focus of debate. At two timepoints, 1 year apart, 194 children (7.27-11.43 years old; male = 98) reported their gaming frequency, and their tendencies to play violent video games, and to game (a) cooperatively and (b) competitively; likewise, parents reported their children’s psychosocial health. Gaming at time one was associated with increases in emotion problems. Violent gaming was not associated with psychosocial changes. Cooperative gaming was not associated with changes in prosocial behavior. Finally, competitive gaming was associated with decreases in prosocial behavior, but only among children who played video games with high frequency. Thus, gaming frequency was related to increases in internalizing but not externalizing, attention, or peer problems, violent gaming was not associated with increases in externalizing problems, and for children playing approximately 8 h or more per week, frequent competitive gaming may be a risk factor for decreasing prosocial behavior. We argue that replication is needed and that future research should better distinguish between different forms of gaming for more nuanced and generalizable insight.
Some researchers have proposed that video games possess good learning principles and may promote problem solving skills. Empirical research regarding this relationship, however, is limited. The goal of the presented study was to examine whether strategic video game play (i.e., role playing and strategy games) predicted self-reported problem solving skills among a sample of 1,492 adolescents (50.8 % female), over the four high school years. The results showed that more strategic video game play predicted higher self-reported problem solving skills over time than less strategic video game play. In addition, the results showed support for an indirect association between strategic video game play and academic grades, in that strategic video game play predicted higher self-reported problem solving skills, and, in turn, higher self-reported problem solving skills predicted higher academic grades. The novel findings that strategic video games promote self-reported problem solving skills and indirectly predict academic grades are important considering that millions of adolescents play video games every day.
The impact of bullying in all forms on the mental health and safety of adolescents is of particular interest, especially in the wake of new methods of bullying that victimize youths through technology. The current study examined the relationship between victimization from both physical and cyber bullying and adolescent suicidal behavior. Violent behavior, substance use, and unsafe sexual behavior were tested as mediators between two forms of bullying, cyber and physical, and suicidal behavior. Data were taken from a large risk-behavior screening study with a sample of 4,693 public high school students (mean age = 16.11, 47 % female). The study’s findings showed that both physical bullying and cyber bullying associated with substance use, violent behavior, unsafe sexual behavior, and suicidal behavior. Substance use, violent behavior, and unsafe sexual behavior also all associated with suicidal behavior. Substance use and violent behavior partially mediated the relationship between both forms of bullying and suicidal behavior. The comparable amount of variance in suicidal behavior accounted for by both cyber bullying and physical bullying underscores the important of further cyber bullying research. The direct association of each risk behavior with suicidal behavior also underscores the importance of reducing risk behaviors. Moreover, the role of violence and substance use as mediating behaviors offers an explanation of how risk behaviors can increase an adolescent’s likelihood of suicidal behavior through habituation to physical pain and psychological anxiety.
Cyberbullying, a modern form of bullying performed using electronic forms of contact (e.g., SMS, MMS, Facebook, YouTube), has been considered as being worse than traditional bullying in its consequences for the victim. This difference was mainly attributed to some specific aspect that are believed to distinguish cyberbullying from traditional bullying: an increased potential for a large audience, an increased potential for anonymous bullying, lower levels of direct feedback, decreased time and space limits, and lower levels of supervision. The present studies investigated the relative importance of medium (traditional vs. cyber), publicity (public vs. private), and bully’s anonymity (anonymous vs. not anonymous) for the perceived severity of hypothetical bullying scenarios among a sample of Swiss seventh- and eight-graders (study 1: 49 % female, mean age = 13.7; study 2: 49 % female, mean age = 14.2). Participants ranked a set of hypothetical bullying scenarios from the most severe one to the least severe one. The scenarios were experimentally manipulated based on the aspect of medium and publicity (study 1), and medium and anonymity (study 2). Results showed that public scenarios were perceived as worse than private ones, and that anonymous scenarios were perceived as worse than not anonymous ones. Cyber scenarios generally were perceived as worse than traditional ones, although effect sizes were found to be small. These results suggest that the role of medium is secondary to the role of publicity and anonymity when it comes to evaluating bullying severity. Therefore, cyberbullying is not a priori perceived as worse than traditional bullying. Implications of the results for cyberbullying prevention and intervention are discussed.
The degree to which media contributes to body dissatisfaction, life satisfaction and eating disorder symptoms in teenage girls continues to be debated. The current study examines television, social media and peer competition influences on body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms and life satisfaction in a sample of 237 mostly Hispanic girls. 101 of these girls were reassessed in a later 6-month follow-up. Neither television exposure to thin ideal media nor social media predicted negative outcomes either concurrently nor prospectively with the exception of a small concurrent correlation between social media use and life satisfaction. Social media use was found to contribute to later peer competition in prospective analysis, however, suggesting potential indirect but not direct effects on body related outcomes. Peer competition proved to be a moderate strong predictor of negative outcomes both concurrently and prospectively. It is concluded that the negative influences of social comparison are focused on peers rather than television or social media exposure.
The United States Supreme Court’s recent decision relating to violent video games revealed divisions within the scientific community about the potential for negative effects of such games as well as the need for more, higher quality research. Scholars also have debated the potential for violent games to have positive effects such as on visuospatial cognition or math ability. The current study sought to extend previous literature by using well-validated clinical outcome measures for relevant constructs, which have generally been lacking in past research. Cross-section data on aggression, visuospatial cognition, and math achievement were available for a sample of 333 (51.7 % female) mostly Hispanic youth (mean age = 12.76). Prospective 1-year data on aggression and school GPA were available for 143 (46.2 % female) of those youth. Results from both sets of analysis revealed that exposure to violent game had neither short-term nor long-term predictive influences on either positive or negative outcomes. A developmental analysis of the cross-sectional data revealed that results did not differ across age categories of older children, preadolescents or adolescents. Analysis of effect sizes largely ruled out Type II error as a possible explanation for null results. Suggestions for new directions in the field of video game research are proffered.
Research on gender gaps in school tends to focus on average gender differences in academic outcomes, such as motivation, engagement, and achievement. The current study moved beyond a binary perspective to unpack the variations within gender. It identified distinct groups of adolescents based on their patterns of conformity to different gender norms and compared group differences in motivation, engagement, and achievement. Data were collected from 597 English students (aged 14-16 years, 49% girls) on their conformity to traditional masculine and feminine norms, growth mindset, perseverance, self-handicapping, and their English and mathematics performance at the end of secondary school. Latent profile analysis identified seven groups of adolescents (resister boys, cool guys, tough guys, relational girls, modern girls, tomboys, wild girls) and revealed the prevalence of each profile. Within-gender variations show that two thirds of the boys were motivated, engaged, and performed well in school. In contrast, half of the girls showed maladaptive patterns of motivation, engagement, and achievement, and could be considered academically at risk. By shifting the focus from “boys versus girls” to “which boys and which girls”, this study reveals the invisibility of well-performing boys and underachieving girls in educational gender gap research.
Cyberbullying is a problem affecting a meaningful proportion of youth as they embrace online communication and interaction. Research has identified a number of real-world negative ramifications for both the targets and those who bully. During adolescence, many behavioral choices are influenced and conditioned by the role of major socializing agents, including friends, family, and adults at school. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which peers, parents, and educators influence the cyberbullying behaviors of adolescents. To explore this question, data were analyzed from a random sample of approximately 4,400 sixth through twelfth grade students (49 % female; 63 % nonwhite) from thirty-three schools in one large school district in the southern United States. Results indicate that cyberbullying offending is associated with perceptions of peers behaving similarly, and the likelihood of sanction by adults. Specifically, youth who believed that many of their friends were involved in bullying and cyberbullying were themselves more likely to report cyberbullying behaviors. At the same time, respondents who believed that the adults in their life would punish them for cyberbullying were less likely to participate. Implications for schools and families are discussed with the goal of mitigating this behavior and its negative outcomes among adolescent populations.