Category Archives: Technology

New study confirms: cyberbullying rarely occurs in isolation

It’s something I’ve known from other studies, but this new research from the University of Warwick, published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, confirms it: cyberbullying is mostly an extension of playground bullying — and doesn’t create large numbers of new victims.

In short:

  • Cyberbullying doesn’t create large numbers of new victims
  • Most bullying is face-to-face – with cyberbullying used as a modern tool to supplement traditional forms
  • 29% of UK teenagers reported being bullied – only 1% were victims of cyberbullying alone
  • Bullying intervention strategies should focus on traditional bullying as well as cyberbullying

From the press release:

Professor Dieter Wolke in the Department of Psychology finds that although cyberbullying is prevalent and harmful, it is a modern tool used to harm victims already bullied by traditional, face-to-face means.

In a study of almost 3000 pupils aged 11-16 from UK secondary schools, twenty-nine percent reported being bullied, but one percent of adolescents were victims of cyberbullying alone.

During the survey, pupils completed the Bullying and Friendship Interview, which has been used in numerous studies to assess bullying and victimization.

They were asked about direct victimisation (e.g., “been hit/beaten up” or “called bad/nasty names”); relational victimization (e.g., “had nasty lies/rumours spread about you”); and cyber-victimization (e.g., “had rumours spread about you online”, “had embarrassing pictures posted online without permission”, or “got threatening or aggressive emails, instant messages, text messages or tweets”).

All the teenagers who reported being bullied in any form had lower self-esteem, and more behavioural difficulties than non-victims.

However, those who were bullied by multiple means – direct victimisation, relational victimisation and cyber-victimisation combined – demonstrated the lowest self-esteem and the most emotional and behavioural problems.

The study finds that cyberbullying is “another tool in the toolbox” for traditional bullying, but doesn’t create many unique online victims.

As a result, Professor Wolke argues that public health strategies to prevent bullying overall should still mainly focus on combatting traditional, face-to-face bullying – as that is the root cause of the vast majority of cyberbullying.

Professor Wolke comments:

“Bullying is a way to gain power and peer acceptance, being the ‘cool’ kid in class. Thus, cyber bullying is another tool that is directed towards peers that the bully knows, and bullies, at school.

“Any bullying prevention and intervention still needs to be primarily directed at combatting traditional bullying while considering cyberbullying as an extension that reaches victims outside the school gate and 24/7.”

Abstract of the study:

Cyberbullying has been portrayed as a rising ‘epidemic’ amongst children and adolescents. But does it create many new victims beyond those already bullied with traditional means (physical, relational)? Our aim was to determine whether cyberbullying creates uniquely new victims, and whether it has similar impact upon psychological and behavioral outcomes for adolescents, beyond those experienced by traditional victims. This study assessed 2745 pupils, aged 11–16, from UK secondary schools. Pupils completed an electronic survey that measured bullying involvement, self-esteem and behavioral problems. Twenty-nine percent reported being bullied but only 1% of adolescents were pure cyber-victims (i.e., not also bullied traditionally). Compared to direct or relational victims, cyber-victimization had similar negative effects on behavior (z = −0.41) and self-esteem (z = −0.22) compared to those not involved in bullying. However, those bullied by multiple means (poly-victims) had the most difficulties with behavior (z = −0.94) and lowest self-esteem (z = −0.78). Cyberbullying creates few new victims, but is mainly a new tool to harm victims already bullied by traditional means. Cyberbullying extends the reach of bullying beyond the school gate. Intervention strategies against cyberbullying may need to include approaches against traditional bullying and its root causes to be successful.

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Filed under At home, Education, Psychology, Research, Social Media, Technology

Differences in being distracted: who gets most distracted by cell phones?

What’s more annoying than cell phones during a concert? People filming can be a burden, but nothing worse than a ringtone during a silent piece of music. Researchers now have verified that the mere presence of a cell phone or smartphone can adversely affect our cognitive performance, particularly among infrequent internet users and again it has input for mobile devices in education…

From the press release:

As a part of their research, Associate Professor Jun-ichiro Kawahara of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Letters and Motohiro Ito of Chukyo University (a special research student at Hokkaido University’ Graduate School of Letters) measured the effect of mobile phones on the ability to pay attention of 40 undergraduate students.

The participants were split into two groups: a “mobile-phone conditions” group and a “control conditions” group. For the former, the researchers placed a mobile phone (that did not belong to the participant being tested) next to a computer monitor, asked the participant to search for a target character amongst other characters that appeared on the monitor screen, and then measured the time it took to search for the target character. For the latter group, a memo pad of the same size as the phone was placed by the monitor, and the same experiment was conducted. Thereafter, participants were asked about how frequently they use and how attached they are to the internet.

According to the experiment’s results, “mobile-phone conditions” participants took longer to find the target character than the control group, indicating that participants were automatically distracted by the presence of the phone, impairing cognitive performance. This effect was more pronounced in people who infrequently use the internet. On the other hand, it was found that heavy users were not distracted by the phone and rather more efficient to notice the target when it appeared on the side of the monitor where the mobile phone was placed. These results suggest that the influence of a mobile phone on the examinee’s cognitive performance differed depending on the degree of their internet usage.

The researchers hypothesize that people are automatically drawn to the presence of a mobile phone, and there are individual differences in how one attempts to ignore it. In conclusion, Kawahara notes “The mere presence of a mobile phone was a distraction among infrequent internet users. However, among frequent internet users, the device might have served as a spatial cue from which their visual system starts searching the target.”

Abstract of the study:

Recent studies suggest that the “mere presence” of a mobile phone impairs social interactions and neuropsychological test performance. The present study examined whether the presence of a mobile phone causes spatial bias toward the device during a visual search task. Participants identified a target among spatially distributed non-targets. We manipulated three factors: device presence (mobile phone or notepad), target congruency (congruent or incongruent), and attentional load (set size 8 or 24). A mobile phone (or a notepad in the control condition) was placed on the left side of the computer screen. Participants also completed a questionnaire to measure Internet usage and attachment. Participants with high scores on the questionnaire rapidly identified the target at the congruent (same side as the phone) location, but the mere presence effect did not occur in this condition. In contrast, participants with low scores on the questionnaire demonstrated the mere presence effect, but no spatial bias was observed. These results suggest that the mere presence effect can be modulated by individual differences in the degree to which a device is appealing.


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Funny on Sunday: Why Can’t You Use Phones on Planes

It’s an oldie but goodie I saw on Facebook last week:

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A review of 1 on 1 laptops in education shows… that much more and better research is needed

At first when I read this new study by Binbin Zheng, Mark Warschauer Chin-Hsi Lin, Chi Chang, I thought based on the abstract that there was finally great news for EdTech in education:

Over the past decade, the number of one-to-one laptop programs in schools has steadily increased. Despite the growth of such programs, there is little consensus about whether they contribute to improved educational outcomes. This article reviews 65 journal articles and 31 doctoral dissertations published from January 2001 to May 2015 to examine the effect of one-to-one laptop programs on teaching and learning in K–12 schools. A meta-analysis of 10 studies examines the impact of laptop programs on students’ academic achievement, finding significantly positive average effect sizes in English, writing, mathematics, and science. In addition, the article summarizes the impact of laptop programs on more general teaching and learning processes and perceptions as reported in these studies, again noting generally positive findings.

But hold your horses, when you start reading the actual article there is sadly enough much less reason to be happy, imho. Check this conclusion, bold by me:

Contrary to Cuban’s (2003) argument that computers are “oversold and underused” (p. 179) in schools, laptop environments are reshaping many aspects of education in K–12 schools. The most common changes noted in the reviewed studies include significantly increased academic achievement in science, writing, math, and English; increased technology use for varied learning purposes; more student-centered, individualized, and project-based instruction; enhanced engagement and enthusiasm among students; and improved teacher–student and home–school relationships. Contrary to Mayer’s argument that educational technology is a neutral tool indifferent to its use (Veronikas & Shaughnessy, 2005), laptop computers have specific affordances that make certain uses and outcomes likely, such as the ease with which they can be used for drafting, revising, and sharing writing, and for personal access of information.

Though our analysis corroborates and extends many of the positive conclusions from earlier syntheses of one-to-one computing, it is far from the last word on this topic, in part because a disproportionate amount of the research to date on this topic consists of small case studies in one or a handful of schools. The number of studies identified that deployed rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental methods was small, making meta-analysis difficult, and making it impossible for us to conduct moderator analyses. In addition, studies on this topic have largely done a poor job of assessing learning outcomes that are not well-captured by current iterations of standardized tests. As the United States and other countries move to more sophisticated forms of standardized assessment, these new measures may be better aligned with the learning goals believed to be associated with laptop use.

The falling price of hardware, software, and wireless access; the increasing digital literacy of teachers, students, and parents; the growing sophistication of educational technology applications; and the rising need for computers to be used in student assessment all suggest that one-to-one laptop programs are going to continue to expand in K–12 schools. This, in turn, should encourage larger, better-funded, and longer studies that can more systematically identify what works, what does not, for what purposes, and for whom in the one-to-one laptop classroom.

Actually I think that the second paragraph makes the first one way too strong. So I do think that the debate between Kozma and Clark hasn’t been decided yet. In itself, this review study is an interesting read also when discussing e.g. inequality.


Filed under Education, Research, Review, Technology

Despite popular claims: little experimental evidence for influence of the internet on teenage brains (review)

There are two popular – but opposing – ideas about the internet and young people: Internet makes them more stupid versus Internet empowers them and we should look at the kids to now our future.

Kathryn Mills made a review of the existing evidence and concludes:

  • Adults are concerned about the effects of new technologies on the developing brain.

  • Different aspects of Internet use have different effects on adolescent health.

  • Neuroimaging research on this topic has focused on nonrepresentative samples.

  • There is currently no evidence that typical Internet use harms the adolescent brain.

And there are also some interesting facts in her article in Cell:

Although it is unclear how time spent specifically using the Internet relates to physical activity, a longitudinal study of 11–13-year-olds (n = 908) suggests that engaging in screen-based sedentary behaviors such as computer use is not associated with less engagement in leisure-time physical activities


At this time we cannot be sure whether Internet use is creating a generation with ‘fundamentally different cognitive skills’, although recent studies have begun to test the potential effects of widespread Internet use on the cognitive abilities of young adults.


Although there are neuroimaging studies that have investigated the effects of Internet use on the adolescent brain, these studies have focused on adolescents classified as excessive Internet users (see [11] for a review). The results of these studies are unlikely to apply to the majority (an estimated 95.6%; see [12]) of adolescents that do not qualify as excessive Internet users.


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Funny on Sunday: is that EDTech tool pedagogically valid?

What a great way to start the year with some sound advice! (H/T @Bramfaems)

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Good question answered: despite technology, why are there still so many jobs? (TED-talk by D. Autor)

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A study about augmented reality and learning

Augmented and virtual reality is hot, also in people thinking about education. But what is the effect of augmented reality on learning? Good question, and this – rather smal – study shows it maybe can. But caution is warranted if you look at this overview:

0 Month 1 Month 1 Month + 1 Week
Motivation (Deci & Ryan) Situation motivation
Knowledge test Knowledge test
School learning context Science centre learning context
Background variables: school achievement, gender

This means that the study doesn’t say anything about lasting effect of often using augmented reality in education, as motivation seems to be a possible explanation. Motivation can also originate from doing something new…

From the press release:

The aim of this research project was to analyse learning using Augmented Reality (AR) technology and the motivational and cognitive aspects related to it in an informal learning context. The 146 participants were 12-year old Finnish pupils visiting a science centre exhibition.

The results showed that AR-technology experience was beneficial especially for the pupils, who otherwise belong to the lowest achieving school success group. They were reaching up the gap with other students while learning science. On the other hand, the students with the high-performance school success gained more challenge and quality for the learning outcomes.

Augmented Reality (AR) differs from Virtual reality (VR): VR is totally virtual and illusion, but AR creates mixed reality by adding visual elements into real, physical environment around us. This research group from the University of Helsinki has been doing research related to informal learning and Augmented Reality for more than a decade now. Now, only after the Pokémon phenomenon this AR-technolgoy has become known by wider audiences. However, many experts don’t consider the Pokémon technology as AR-solution, but as the recent Scientific American calls it as “location-based entertainment”.

“Utilizing ICT- and digitalization in education is much hype. The majority of the comments are based on everyday knowledge and anecdotes. The number of evidence-based education research reports is astonishingly small,” says Professor Hannu Salmi from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

“Several ICT-based educational materials are old-fashioned. The text-books have only been converted into digital form. However, by the latest technologies like AR allow to create totally new type of learning solutions and not only to transport old knowledge into a new format. Our team has been developing clearly defined phenomena like the molecule movement in the gases, gravity, sound waves, or aeroplane wing physics. This is not only for learning the knowledge based facts, but learning by doing to make the observations is developing the thinking skills – learning to learn, as well.”

“Video games and computer based entertainment and serious pc-educational games have traditionally been more beneficial for the boys. However, in this AR-case there was no gap between boys and girls in post-knowledge testing; thus the girls benefitted more from the informal learning experience than the boys,” says Helena Thuneberg, the senior researcher from the University of Helsinki. “Girls had a higher relative autonomy experience (RAI) as an important background factor for high-performance learning. Meanwhile, situation motivation was much more strongly inter-connected among the boys.”

AR seems to be also a good tool for different learners. It is bridging the gap between formal education and informal learning in an effective way.

The research was conducted by the University of Helsinki science centre pedagogy group and the results have been recently published in the Journal of Science Education.

Abstract of the study:

The aim of the study was to analyse learning using Augmented Reality (AR) technology and the motivational and cognitive aspects related to it in an informal learning context. The 146 participants were 11- to 13-year-old Finnish pupils visiting a science centre exhibition. The data, which consisted of both cognitive tasks and self-report questionnaires, were collected using a pre- post-test design and were analysed by SEM path-analysis. The results showed that AR-technology experience was beneficial for all, but especially for the lowest-achieving group and for the girls. In general, pre-knowledge skills predicted post-knowledge test results. As expected, school achievement had an effect on pre-knowledge results. In addition, motivation turned out to be an alternative key route for learning. Being a boy predicted directly or indirectly all other motivational variables, enjoyment and interest, but girls had a higher relative autonomy experience (RAI). Situation motivation and attitude towards learning in the science exhibition were much more strongly inter-connected among boys than girls, and attitude predicted post-knowledge only for boys. AR seems to be a promising method by which to learn abstract phenomena using a concrete manner.


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Barack Obama explains why #solutionism doesn’t work

I shared this already on Twitter, but I think this short text by president Barack Obama is so important that it would be a mistake not to share it here.

Read this and than think about Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, and many others.


Filed under At work, Education, Review, Technology

Funny on Sunday: what is Grand Theft Auto like in Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality is great, but maybe some games can become a bit too real…

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