Investigation into the use of Social Networks amongst Adolescents in regards to Peer Aggression and Cyberbullying
A team led by Dr Jim Ang and Ania Bobrowicz from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts has recently concluded a research study into the effectiveness of computer-mediated communication on conflict resolution among younger users. Working in collaboration with Kent Integrated Youth Service and Project Salus, the study was funded by the Transformation Fund and included 68 secondary school students (aged 12-13) from three Kent schools in Kent.
The study found out that AvatarKinect users reported more positive changes in perceptions toward their partner. Skype users seemed to generate more ideas, whilst AvatarKinect produced better quality ideas. Gesture-based avatar technology appears to be a useful modality to help resolve bullying in schools. A dissemination event which included student presentations from Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne and the Archbishop’s school in Canterbury was held at the University of Kent on 3rd May.
Ania Bobrowicz, Principal Investigator, said: “It was exciting to see the enthusiasm with which the students embraced our project. We are planning to take the findings from the project into the next stage to investigate the effectiveness of using AvatarKinect technology with pupils with social interaction and learning difficulties in mainstream education.”
An interview with the journal Science Omega reporting the results of the six-month project has been published online at http://www.scienceomega.com/article/708/pupils-could-beat-bullying-with-computer-mediation. The researchers are now discussing how best to proceed with colleagues from Project Salus and Kent County Council.