Peer influence fuels online bullying

Online bullying and other forms of cybercrime are being fuelled by peer influence, a new study has shown. Led by Michigan State University Criminologist Thomas Holt, the research found that low self-control appears to be a key factor that leads to such behaviour among juveniles.

Mr Holt - who is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice - said the results of the investigation suggest parents need to keep a closer eye on what their children are up to when using the internet.

The report has been published online in the American Journal of Criminal Justice and found that youngsters whose friends engaged in cybercrimes - which include online bullying, viewing pornography and digital piracy - were more likely to follow suit themselves.

Mr Holt stated: "It's important to know what your kids are doing when they're online and who they are associating with both online and offline."

Dr Angharad Rudkin, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "This piece of research emphasises how important relationships are in determining how we behave.

"Young people, in particular, are strongly influenced by peers. To counteract any negative influence, adults can supervise young people and help guide them towards making positive choices."

The results follow recent findings from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that looked at another form of child misbehaviour - drinking.

As reported by the BBC, it was shown that those who watch their parents get drunk are twice as likely to imbibe alcohol as their peers.