Due to the increasing number of young people using the Internet, cyberbullying may cause greater harm than traditional bullying. Therefore, effective bullying behavior intervention has always been the focus of researchers. A large number of studies have shown that parenting styles are closely related to the development trajectory of traditional bullying behaviors and that online bullying behaviors are highly correlated with traditional bullying behaviors. Therefore, it can be speculated that the development track of online bullying behavior of junior high school students is related to the parenting style. This study predicts that junior high school students’ cyberbullying behavior may have multiple development trajectories, and parenting styles may be an important predictor of these development trajectories. Therefore, researchers took 491 junior high school students as the research object, conducted 4 longitudinal tests on their online bullying behavior over a period of 2 years, and then tested their parenting styles. The mixed growth model of latent variables is used to explore the multiple development trajectories of online bullying behavior of junior high school students, and to analyze the influence of parenting styles. The results of the study are as follow:
First: The longitudinal study found that within 2 years (that is, from the 8th to the 9th grade), the cyberbullying behavior of junior high school students showed a significant downward trend. It is also found that there are individual differences in the rate of decline in online bullying behavior among teenagers from the 8th to 9th grade. Specifically, most junior high school students have a slower decline in online bullying behavior, while a small number of junior high school students have a faster decline. The above-mentioned downward trend and its heterogeneous results have certain inspirations for the intervention of online bullying behavior of junior high school students. Since the 8th grade, junior high school students will experience a significant reduction in online bullying behavior. The implementation of intervention programs should pay attention to this critical time. At this point, intervention at the beginning of the 8th grade will have a better effect.
Second: This study found that parental refusal can positively predict the initial level of online bullying behavior of junior high school students, and negatively predict the rate of decline, and it can also increase the probability of being in the fast group. Junior high school students who are rejected by their parents have higher social anxiety, poorer peer relationships, more withdrawal behaviors, and stronger anger. This leads to more frequent peer conflicts and more unreasonable coping strategies, so they are more likely to be bullied. This study also found that parental warmth makes junior high school students belong to the group of the slow decline in online bullying behavior. The possible reason for the significant difference between fathers and mothers in the influence of emotional warmth is that emotionally warm fathers pay more attention to fairness, justice, and the shaping of values, and emotionally warm mothers pay more attention to the development of junior high school students' interpersonal communication and emotional expression. Junior high school students are more willing to share or communicate peer relationships with their mothers, so the mother's emotional warmth is more likely to prevent junior high school students from encountering cyberbullying, and they are more likely to belong to the slow decline group.
Third: This study finds that parental overprotection can increase the probability of junior high school students belonging to the rapidly declining group of online bullying behaviors. Overprotective parents will excessively restrict normal activities and provide excessive interventions, resulting in lower self-protection ability and fewer opportunities for peers to interact with junior high school students, thereby increasing the probability of being bullied. In terms of the difference in the influence of overprotection between fathers and mothers, the possible reasons are: In terms of intervention and protection, overprotective fathers are more serious than mothers, and overprotective fathers weaken the self-protection ability of junior high school students. As a result, they will encounter more bullying behaviors and are more likely to belong to the rapid decline group.
Based on this, this longitudinal study found that the online bullying behavior of junior high school students showed an overall downward trend within 2 years. The more adolescents who were bullied online in the 8th grade, the faster the decline. At the same time, the development trajectory of online bullying behavior of junior high school students has two groups: rapid decline and slow decline. Finally, parenting styles can significantly predict the initial level and rate of decline of online bullying behavior of junior high school students, and can also significantly predict their probability of belonging to the development group of online bullying behavior. The implementation of intervention programs through mothers' education can make junior high school students suffer from cyberbullying even more. In the future, more attention should be paid to interventions through mothers' education.