Q&A with Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Analysis Middle

In this monthly series of interviews, we put members of the academic community and their critical research in the spotlight – as partners, collaborators, consultants, and independent collaborators.

For April we have nominated an academic duo: Sameer Hinduja (Florida Atlantic University) and Justin Patchin (University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire) from the Cyberbullying Research Center, which they set up as a central point of contact for the latest cyberbullying research on young people. Patchin and Hinduja are top industry consultants and provide valuable insights that better inform our content guidelines. In these questions and answers, they share more about their background, the founding of the Cyberbullying Research Center, their posts on Facebook and Instagram, and their current academic research.

Q: Tell us about your academic background.

A: We earned both Masters and PhD degrees in criminal justice from Michigan State University. After entering graduate school, Sameer became interested in emerging technology-related crime problems, and Justin became interested in school violence and juvenile delinquency. When we observed the behavior of teenagers online, we found that bullying was occurring in this population. We started to study cyberbullying systematically and quickly learned that it affects young people. Using data from thousands of adolescents over the past two decades, we have been able to bring evidence-based insights into adolescents’ experiences on the Internet. Fortunately, not everything is bad! However, we use the results of our research to advise teens, parents, and others on safe online practices.

Q: How did the Cyberbullying Research Center come about?

A: The Cyberbullying Research Center arose out of our interest in investigating the behavior of cyberbullying, but also to disseminate information from our research more quickly to those who could benefit from it (parents, educators, young people). We wanted a platform on which we could publish timely results of our studies in the form of blog posts, research briefs and fact sheets. We still write articles and books in trade journals, but we also want to create resources that are more accessible for everyone. We wanted to create a one-stop shop that people could turn to for reliable information about cyberbullying among teenagers and other online issues.

Q: How did you add your expertise to Facebook and Instagram?

A: Part of our mission as action researchers is to help people prevent and respond more appropriately to cyberbullying and other problematic online behavior among teenagers. This includes working with industry partners like Facebook to keep them updated on the latest research and to share their policies and practices regarding inappropriate behavior. We are also trusted partners for Facebook and Instagram, so we can report abusive content on these platforms faster. We routinely guide people using these platforms by handling problematic content in the apps so they can have positive experiences. At times it can be difficult to navigate through all of the settings and reporting features, and we know these pretty well.

Q: What have you been working on lately?

A: We recently completed a study of tween cyberbullying for Cartoon Network and are currently planning to collect more data on cyberbullying among teenagers in the US soon to see if behavior has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to write scientific articles and are in the early stages of our next book. Finally, we continue to discuss various current events and topics at the interface between youth and social media on our blog and regularly create new resources for young people and adults serving young people.

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?

A: You can read about our research on our website or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @cyberbullyingresearch.

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