Cyberbullying a desecration of information ethics. Perceptions of post-high school youth in a rural community

Publication Date14 Nov 2016
AuthorLancelord Siphamandla Ncube,Luyanda Dube
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information & communications technology
Cyberbullying a desecration of
information ethics
Perceptions of post-high school youth in a
rural community
Lancelord Siphamandla Ncube and Luyanda Dube
Department of Information Science, University of South Africa,
Pretoria, South Africa
Purpose Cyberbullying occurs when a minor is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated,
embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child. Given that cyberbullying entails defamation or
spreading false information or portfolios about someone, it is regarded as a violation of the ethical code
of information use. The purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions, experiences and challenges
of post-high school youth with regards to cyberbullying. This is a quantitative study that used a survey
approach to gather data using a self-administered questionnaire, which was distributed to 60 youth
from the KwaZulu-Natal computer literacy community engagement project. The ndings attest that
youth recognise that cyberbullying might have detrimental effects on victims, such as alcohol and
drugs abuse, low self-esteem, high level of absenteeism, poor grades and depression and suicidal
thoughts. There is a low percentage of victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying in rural contexts in
South Africa. It is hoped that ndings may will a positive impact in the rural communities and enable
the youth to interact with the modern technologies and handle them in an ethical manner. The study
recommends that parents need to take cognisance of the probable possible dangers of the various
technologies so that they could be instrumental in educating their children about children
cyberbullying. Further, the schools and the Department of Education can play a fundamental role in
educating children about cyberbullying and cyber ethics.
Design/methodology/approach – This survey was conducted to explore youth perceptions and
experiences, as well as violations, of ethics through cyberbullying as experienced by the rural
community at Mbazwana in the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Convenience sampling was used,
because although the questionnaire was distributed to all 60 participants in the project, not all of them
completed the instrument, as participation was voluntary. Only 43 were completed, which is equal to 72
per cent response rate. The validity of the data collection instrument used was enhanced by the fact that
questions were derived from the main objective of the study. Some themes of the instrument were
self-designed and others were adapted from a similar study by Dehue et al. (2008), who looked at
cyberbullying experiences of youth. The instrument was tried out in a pilot study in grade 12 classes in
two high schools at Mbazwana in a bid to nd out whether the learners would understand the
questionnaire. Post-high school learners were considered to be at a similar level as the grade 12 learners
polled. The pilot study proved its own importance: students who lled in the questionnaire indicated
that they were not familiar with some terms and the researchers had to simplify the language to make
it more understandable.
Findings A large portion of the youth studied (45 per cent) indicated that they used their
smartphones to access the internet, 25 per cent identied libraries as their source of access to the internet
and 13 per cent reported accessing the internet from community laboratories (usually found in
Department of Education centres). In total, 13 per cent of respondents reported accessing the internet
from friends’ computers. Last, the smallest proportion at 4 per cent reported having internet access via
their home desktop computers. The South African Mobile Report (2014) reveals that a great majority of
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 12 April 2016
Revised 16 July 2016
Accepted 17 August 2016
Journalof Information,
Communicationand Ethics in
Vol.14 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JICES-04-2016-0009

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