Social Cognitive Theory and Its Interrelation With Cyber-Bullying

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Social Cognitive Theory and Its Interrelation With Cyber-Bullying essay
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Online Bullying Proposal

Cyber bullying is a huge epidemic in our society. We will be discussing the issue, how technology has played a part in it, the behavior that is learned from technology and how it is involved with online bullying, and of course, how Bandura’s social cognitive theory is comprehended in this issue and look at possible solutions for online bullying. This issue has been around since the beginning of social media and the Internet, but we will be going more in depth about the emotions, thoughts, and behavior behind bullies as well.

Cyber Bullying and Modern Technology

'Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies, such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal web sites, and defamatory online personal polling websites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others' (Qing Li, 2010). With increasing platforms becoming available by the second and not being properly monitored by adults or parents, which gives those the ability to bully without consequences. Now, there are specific applications and social media platforms that are designated for those to speak freely “anonymously”, which makes them an easy target for online bullying. Technology continues to develop rapidly and is thus changing our ways of functioning in society. This event brings new dimensions to our responsibilities as educators and mentors. Doors are constantly opening, bringing more opportunities and at the same time requiring all of us to rethink the ethical use of technology in schools. For example, Internet cell phones and other communication technologies, while providing us with conveniences, also expose our students to interactions that put their safety and emotional well-being at risk (Qing Li, 2010).

Before technology, bullying was a larger problem in schools, parks, etc. but now it’s easier for “bullies” to have access to “easy targets”. Everyone constantly updates their social medias, messages, etc. with personal information that can be considered material to be judged. After all, it is the Internet, and anything goes on it. Although cyberbullying is a well-known issue with technology and the Internet, the way things are interpreted and perceived can also be taken the wrong way due to the lack of proper communication that needs to be involved. Instead, perception is phased due to communicating via technology and not in person. Margalit (2014), “Studies have found that day-to-day interactions are based almost entirely on nonverbal communication. When we interact with others, we are continuously processing wordless signals like facial expressions, tone of voice, gestures, body language, eye contact, and even the physical distance between us and them. These nonverbal signals are the heart and soul of the interaction. We cannot understand the true meaning of an interaction if we do not have the ability to interpret these nonverbal signals. They enable us to infer the other person's intentions, as well as how involved they are in the conversation, whether they are stressed or relaxed, if they are attracted to us, and so on. These messages exist in any type of face-to-face interaction, even those that do not involve active conversation. Nonverbal signals add a level of depth to the interaction but demand cognitive and emotional effort.”

Since technology doesn’t involve the emotional or mental involvement that is required to fully comprehend a situation, conversation, or anything for that matter, it provides humans with the easiness of interacting (without the cognitive or emotional involvement). Also, humans become more closed off and isolated because they would rather live their lives in a virtual reality and online versus socializing, communicating, etc. in person.

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Prevalence of Cyber-Bullying

In recent years, attention on cyber-bullying has exponentially increased among professionals in education, psychology, and the law owing to its increased prevalence and, in some cases, the severity of its effects (Koons, 2019). Numerous studies have found approximately 20% adolescents and adults report victimized at some point in their lives and that more than 10% of adolescents and adults report having participated in cyber-bullying (Kowalski et al., 2017). However, these rates of self-reported bullying participation could be lowered to a reluctance to self-report such behavior. This disparity between the numbers of perpetrators and victims is consistent those of other criminal activities; small numbers of people generally commit the majority of crimes (Swearer et al., 2014) Nonetheless, cyber-bullying remains a significant problem must be addressed. As with traditional bullying, one effective reduction method is direct intervention to aid perpetrators in altering the behaviors that underlie their behaviors using a social cognitive approach.

Influence of Human Behavior in Cyber-Bullying

Social cognitive theory is underpinned by similar principles to that of social learning theory (Swearer et al., 2014). However, SCT focuses on the importance of cognition plays in determining behaviors (Bandura, 1986). Specifically, SCT posits a constant connection (called reciprocal determinism) between behavior, the social environment, and internal feelings or cognition (Bandura, 1986). Specifically, reciprocal determinism occurs when one forms cognitive judgments regarding behaviors observed during social interactions and consequences that result from such behaviors (Bandura, 1986). Social cognitive theory has been used to describe undesirable behaviors (Bandura, 1986) and can be applied to study cyber-bullying behavior, which is also learned through observation and reinforcement (Feist et al., 2018). Thus, as with traditional bullying, cognition regarding cyber-bullying and beliefs about the likelihood of positive (or negative) consequences will affect the chances that people will engage in such behavior (Feist et al., 2018). Likewise, links between observing aggressive, antisocial behaviors (like bullying) and the likelihood of engaging is such behaviors are well-documented (Feist et al., 2018). For example, youth who socialize with more aggressive peer groups are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior than those who do not (Swearer et al., 2014).

While it is true that people have numerous opportunities to learn antisocial behavior via observational learning, these scenarios are precisely where cognition and reinforcement are critical factors. Thus, from the cognitive perspective, people are less likely to engage in cyber-bullying if they believe such behavior is unacceptable. Next, these cognitive factors are combined with emotions perceived to be supportive of bullying, and this relationship is visible in tendencies to bully others (Swearer et al., 2014). Finally, the likelihood that people will engage in bullying and similar negative behaviors is affected by psychological factors; specifically, positive or negative consequences. Therefore, the significant influencing forces in peoples’ lives represent the best predictors of whether they will engage in bullying behavior, either online or offline. The key factors for cyber-bullying are exposure to aggressive or antisocial online behavior, support or endorsement of such behavior, and socializing with peers or others who display approval or acceptance of such behavior.

Reasons and Solutions

In my humble opinion, behavior is defined as someone’s actions, responses, and mannerisms towards others, situations, and their environment. There are countless possible reasons behind online bullying. Based on what I think behavior is, and what I have personally experienced with cyberbullying, the main reasons are: lack of attention/parental guidance, the use of technology to escape reality, personal issues with said bully (abuse at home, emotional trauma, etc.), the younger aged children having access prematurely to these platforms, and the ability to have access to and put out extremely personal information. Bullying behavior is not just the result of individual characteristics, but is influenced by multiple relationships with peers, families, teachers, neighbors, and interactions with societal influences (Swearer & Hymel, 2015). As these findings suggest, bullying and victimization do not occur in isolation. Rather, bullying stems from complex interactions between individuals and the contexts in which they function, both proximal (i.e., family, peers, school climate) and distal (i.e., societal, cultural influences). Accordingly, multiple systems must be targeted in order for bullying prevention and intervention programs to be effective (e.g., O’Donnell, Hawkins, & Abbott, 1995; Rodkin,2004; Swearer & Espelage, 2004).

Although online bullying will most likely never be stopped, there are plenty of solutions that can decrease the statistics and consequences from it. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory is one of the many personality theories that focus on personality and how it is molded. Bandura’s Theory assumes that personality is molded by an interaction of behavior is molded by an interaction of behavior, personal factors (including thoughts and assumptions we make about ourselves and others), and one’s environment (Feist, 2018). The textbook definition of his theory is everything we have discussed already with online bullying. For oneself to become so miserable with themselves, they choose to harm others usually means that they have previously learned that behavior or they are trying to express their emotions in a not so healthy way. By acknowledging these factors in Bandura’s Theory, it can help those on both sides of bullying to understand and possibly make changes to work towards healthier coping mechanisms and reciprocating the emotional needs and desires. Bullying in any form is considered to be unethical and unmoral. The Social Cognitive Theory can help propose solutions because it’s a realistic theory that has real results with similar issues. In order to stop bullying, we must first change the environment – to make it safer, and open for everyone to not only be able to talk freely about their emotions, but also make it known that having emotions and trauma is okay. We must teach the younger generations the healthier ways to cope with issues at home, with friends, etc. instead of lashing out on others.


In conclusion, online bullying has increased in recent years due to the popularity of social media and technology, which is causing more problems to arise within the technology world. Cyberbullying is a form of harassment that has led to a number of individuals to hide from society or commit suicide; however, there are a number of resources made up of former victims and professions that are determined to help put an end to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the latest form of relational aggression that allows individuals to assault their victims by way of technology-the social media. There are different reasons why people engage in cyberbullying others, and the number victims continues to grow worldwide. Victims often experience overwhelming negative emotions that can lead to devastating consequences (such as suicide). It is our society’s job to teach all generations the risks of having such a large platform that can be used for many unethical things. Human beings are easily influenced by their surroundings, and with technology playing such an important role, it impacts the daily lives of everyone. Technology has taken away the personal connection of communication and interactions with others. With technology consistently in our lives, it provides those with the opportunity to lash out and not control their emotions with no direct consequences, which is terrifying. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory is a great example of how influential our surroundings are, and how much of an impact they are on personalities and behavior. The most important thing we can do as a community is to educate, provide resources and tools for those whom may struggle on both sides of online bullying, and let it be known that bullying along with any other similar issues are not tolerated and can harm those affected in more ways than just psychologically.

This essay is graded:
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Expert Review
The essay provides a comprehensive overview of the issue of online bullying, discussing its prevalence, the role of technology, and the influence of human behavior. The inclusion of Bandura's social cognitive theory adds depth to the analysis. The essay also suggests possible solutions for addressing online bullying.
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What can be improved
1. The essay lacks a clear introduction and thesis statement. It would benefit from a concise and focused introduction that outlines the main points that will be discussed. 2. The essay would benefit from a more organized structure. The ideas and information presented are somewhat disjointed and could be better organized to enhance coherence. 3. The essay could provide more specific examples and evidence to support the points made. Including real-life examples or research findings would strengthen the argument. 4. The conclusion could be stronger and more impactful. It should summarize the main points and reiterate the importance of addressing online bullying.
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