Adolescent cyberbullies and problematic internet use: The protective role of core self-evaluations

Adolescentes ciberacosadores y uso problemático de Internet: el papel protector de las autovaloraciones centrales

Carolina Yudes, Lourdes Rey and Natalio Extremera


Cyberbullying is a growing problem in con­temporary society. Although the risk factors are widely studied, there has been little research focussed on the personal resources that might help prevent or reduce it. This study aimed to analyse whether core self-evaluations can mod­erate the relationship between problematic in­ternet use and cyberbullying. The participants were 456 cyberbullies aged between 12 and 18 (mean age: 15.01; SD = 1.44), extracted from an initial sample of 2085 young people. We used three self-report measures as measurement in­struments (cyberbullying perpetration: ECIP-Q; problematic internet use: IAT; core self-evalua­tions: CSE). The results show that cyberbullying perpetration relates positively to problematic in­ternet use and negatively to CSE. The moder­ation analysis highlighted the protective role of CSE only when the level of problematic internet use was not very high. These results highlight the need to implement measures at early ages to prevent problematic internet use and cyber­bullying in which working on positive personal resources is of key importance. It concludes that this problem requires comprehensive models that are broader than those currently existing, which in addition to risk factors take into con­sideration personal, familiar, and contextual fac­tors that can provide protection.

Please, cite this article as follows: Yudes, C., Rey, L., & Extremera, N. (2021). Adolescentes ciberacosadores y uso problemático de Internet: el papel protector de las autovaloraciones centrales | Adolescent cyberbullies and problematic internet use: The protective role of core self-evaluations. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 79 (279), 231-248.

Alonso, C., & Romero, E. (2020). Estudio longi­tudinal de predictores y consecuencias del ciberacoso en adolescentes españoles [Longi­tudinal study of predictors and consequences of cyberbullying in Spanish adolescents]. Be­havioral Psychology, 28 (1), 73-93.

Arnaiz, P., Cerezo, F., Giménez, A. M., & Maqui­lón, J. J. (2016). Conductas de ciberadicción y experiencias de cyberbullying entre ado­lescents [Online addiction behaviors and cyberbullying among adolescents]. Anales de Psicologia, 32 (3), 761-769.

Arrivillaga, C., Rey, L., & Extremera, N. (2020). Uso problemático del smartphone y ajuste psicológico en adolescentes: el papel clave de la Inteligencia Emocional [Problematic smartphone use and psychological adjust­ment in adolescents: The key role of Emotional Intelligence]. Know and Share Psychology, 1 (4), 147-158.

Astor, R. A., & Benbenishty, R. (2018). Bullying, school violence, and climate in evolving contexts: Culture, organization, and time. In Bullying, School Violence, and Cli­mate in Evolving Contexts: Culture, Orga­nization, and Time (pp. 156-182). Oxford University Press.

Aznar, I., Kopecký, K., Romero, J. M., Cáceres, M. P., & Trujillo, J. M. (2020). Patologías asociadas al uso problemático de internet. Una revisión sistemática y metaanálisis en WOS y Scopus [Pathologies associated with problematic internet use. A systematic review and meta-analysis in WOS and Scopus]. Investigación Bibliotecológica: Ar­chivonomía, Bibliotecología e Información, 34 (82), 229-253.

Barlett, C. P., Seyfert, L. W., Simmers, M. M., Hsueh Hua Chen, V., Cavalcanti, J. G., Krahé, B., Suzuki, K., Warburton, W. A., Wong, R. Y. M., Pimentel, C. E., & Skowronski, M. (2020). Cross-cultural similarities and differences in the theoretical predictors of cyberbullying perpetration: Results from a seven-coun­try study. Aggressive Behavior, 47 (1), 1-9.

Bisquerra, R., & Hernández, S. (2017). Psicología Positiva, educación emocional y el Programa Aulas Felices [Positive psychology, emotional education and the happy classrooms pro­gram]. Papeles Del Psicólogo, 38 (1), 58-65.

Brewer, G., & Kerslake, J. (2015). Cyberbullying, self-esteem, empathy and loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 225-260.

Bussone, S., Trentini, C., Tambelli, R., & Caro­la, V. (2020). Early-Life interpersonal and affective risk factors for pathological gaming. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11 (423), 1-9.

Caplan, S. E. (2010). Theory and measurement of generalized problematic Internet use: A two-step approach. Computers in Human Behavior, 26 (5), 1089-1097.

Casale, S., Lecchi, S., & Fioravanti, G. (2015). The association between psychological well-being and problematic use of internet com­municative services among young people. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 149 (5), 480-497.

Casaló, L. V., & Escario, J. J. (2019). Predictors of excessive internet use among adolescents in Spain: The relevance of the relationship be­tween parents and their children. Computers in Human Behavior, 92, 314-351.

Chen, L., Ho, S. S., & Lwin, M. O. (2017). A meta-analysis of factors predicting cyberbullying perpetration and victimization: From the social cognitive and media effects approach. New Media and Society, 19 (8), 1194-1213.

De la Villa, M., & Fernández, S. (2018). Uso problemático de internet en adolescentes españoles y su relación con autoestima e im­pulsividad [Problematic internet use in Spanish adolescents and their relationship with self-esteem and impulsivity]. Avances en Psi­cología Latinoamericana, 37 (1), 103-119.

Del Rey, R., Casas, J. A., Ortega-Ruiz, R., Schultze-Krumbholz, A., Scheithauer, H., Smith, P., Thompsone, F., Barkoukisf, V., Tsorbatzou­disf, H., Brighig, A., Guarinig, A., Pyżalskih, J., & Plichta, P. (2015). Structural validation and cross-cultural robustness of the Euro­pean Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire. Computers in Human Behavior, 50, 141-147.

Díaz-Vicario, A., Mercader, C., & Gairín, J. (2019). Uso problemático de las TIC en ado­lescentes [Problematic use of ICTs in adoles­cents]. Revista Electrónica de Investigación Educativa, 21, 1-11.

Elipe, P., de la Oliva, M., & Del Rey, R. (2017). Homophobic Bullying and Cyberbullying: Study of a Silenced Problem. Journal of Ho­mosexuality, 65 (5), 672-686.

Elliott, D. C., Kaliski, P., Burrus, J., & Roberts, R. D. (2013). Exploring adolescent resilience through the lens of core self-evaluations. In S. Prince & D. Saklofske (Eds.), Resilience in children, adolescents, and adults (pp. 199-212). Springer.

Estévez, E., Estévez, J. F., Segura, L., & Suárez, C. (2019). The influence of bullying and cy­berbullying in the psychological adjustment of victims and aggressors in adolescence. International Journal of Environmental Re­search and Public Health, 16 (2080), 1-16.

Fínez, M. J., & Morán, C. (2017). Resiliencia y autovaloraciones esenciales: estudio com­parativo en adolescentes y jóvenes [Resilience and core self-evaluations: A compa­rative study in adolescents and young]. Psy­chology, Society and Education, 9 (3), 347- 356.

Fumero, A., Marrero, R. J., Voltes, D., & Peña­te, W. (2018). Personal and social factors in-volved in internet addiction among adoles­cents: A meta-analysis. Computers in Hu­man Behavior, 86, 387-400.

Gámez-Guadix, M., Borrajo, E., & Almendros, C. (2016). Risky online behaviors among adoles­cents: Longitudinal relations among problematic Internet use, cyberbullying perpetration, and meeting strangers online. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 5 (1), 100-107.

Garaigordobil, M. (2019). Prevención del cyber­bullying: variables personales y familiares predictoras de ciberagresión [Prevention of cyberbullying: Personal and family predic-tive variables of cyber-aggression]. Revista de Psicología Clínica Con Niños y Adolescen­tes, 6, 9-17.

Garmendia, M., Jiménez, E., & Larrañaga, N. (2019). Bullying y ciberbullying: victimiza­ción, acoso y daño. Necesidad de intervenir en el entorno escolar. revista española de pedagogía, 77 (273), 295-312.

Guo, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of the predictors of cyberbullying perpetration and victimiza­tion. Psychology in the Schools, 53 (4), 432- 453.

He, D., Shi, M., & Yi, F. (2014). Mediating effects of affect and loneliness on the relationship between core self-evaluation and life satis­faction among two groups of Chinese ado­lescents. Social Indicators Research, 119 (2), 747-756.

Hayes, A. F. (2018). Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analy­sis. A Regression-Based Approach. Guilford Press.

Herrera-López, M., Romera, E., & Ortega-Ruiz, R. (2017). Bullying y cyberbullying en Colom­bia: coocurrencia en adolescentes escolariza­dos. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 49 (3), 163-172.

Judge, T. A., Erez, A., Bono, J. E., & Thoresen, C. J. (2003). The core self-evaluations scale: development of a measure. Personnel Psychology, 56 (2), 303-331.

Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., Judge, T. A., & Scott, B. A. (2009). The role of core self-evaluations in the coping process. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94 (1), 177-195.

Kowalski, R., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digi­tal age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psycho­logical Bulletin, 140 (4), 1073-1137.

Kowalski, R., Limber, S. P., & McCord, A. (2019). A developmental approach to cyberbullying: Prevalence and protective factors. Aggres­sion and Violent Behavior, 45, 20-32.

Larraz, N., Urbon, E., & Antoñanzas, J. L. (2020). La satisfacción con la familia y su relación con la agresividad y la inteligencia emocional en adolescents [Satisfaction with the family and its relationship with aggression and emo­tional intelligence in adolescents]. Know and Share Psychology, 1 (4), 171-179.

Machimbarrena, J. M., González-Cabrera, J., Or­tega-Barón, J., Beranuy, M., Álvarez-Bardón, A., & Tejero, B. (2019). Profiles of problematic internet use and its impact on adoles­cents’ health-related quality of life. Interna­tional Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (20), 3877.

Mäkikangas, A., Feldt, T., Kinnunen, U., & Mauno, S. (2013). Does personality matter? A review of individual differences in oc­cupational well-being. In A. Bakker (Ed.), Advances in Positive Organizational Psy­chology (pp. 107-143). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Martínez-Ferrer, B., Moreno, D., & Musitu, G. (2018). Are adolescents engaged in the prob-lematic use of social networking sites more involved in peer aggression and victimiza­tion? Frontiers in Psychology, 9 (801), 1-13.

McClelland, G., & Judd, C. (1993). Statistical di­fficulties of detecting interactions and mod-erator effects. Psychological Bulletin, 114 (2), 376-390.

Mei, S., Yau, Y. H. C., Chai, J., Guo, J., & Po­tenza, M. N. (2016). Problematic Internet use, well-being, self-esteem and self-control: Data from a high-school survey in China. Addictive Behaviors, 61, 74-79.

Meyer, G., Finn, S. E., Eyde, L. D., Kay, G. G., Moreland, K. L., Dies, R. R., E. J. Eisman, T. W. Kubiszyn, & Reed, G. M. (2001). Psycho­logical testing and psychological assessment: A review of evidence and issues. American Psychologist, 56 (2), 128-165.

Mishna, F., Khoury-Kassabri, M., Gadalla, T., & Daciuk, J. (2012). Risk factors for involvement in cyberbullying: Victims, bullies and bully-victims. Children and Youth Servi­ces Review, 34 (1), 63-70.

Müller, K. W., Dreier, M., Duven, E., Giralt, S., Beutel, M. E., & Wölfling, K. (2017). Adding clinical validity to the statistical power of lar­ge-scale epidemiological surveys on internet addiction in adolescence. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 78 (3), 244-251.

Muñoz-Rodríguez, J. M., Torrijos, P., Serrate, S., & Murciano, A. (2020). Entornos digita­les, conectividad y educación. Percepción y gestión del tiempo en la construcción de la identidad digital de la juventud | Digital en­vironments, connectivity and education: Time perception and management in the construc­tion of young people’s digital identity. revista española de pedagogía, 78 (277), 457-475.

Ortega, R., Del Rey, R., & Casas, J. A. (2016). Evaluar el bullying y el cyberbullying: va­lidación española del EBIP-Q y del ECIP-Q [Assessing bullying and cyberbullying: Spanish validation of EBIPQ and ECIPQ]. Psi­cología Educativa, 22 (1), 77-79.

Palermiti, A. L., Servidio, R., Bartolo, M. G., & Costabile, A. (2017). Cyberbullying and self-esteem: An Italian study. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 136-141.

Patchin, J. (2020, February 21). Summary of our cyberbullying research (2007-2019). Cyberbu­llying Research Center.

Pedrero, E. J., Ruiz-Sánchez, J., Rojo, G., Llanero, M., Pedrero-Aguilar, J., Morales-Alonso, S., & Puerta, C. (2018). Tecnologías de la informa ción y la comunicación (TIC): uso problemá­tico de internet, videojuegos, teléfonos móvi­les, mensajería instantánea y redes sociales mediante el MULTICAGE-TIC [Information and Communications Technologies (ICT): Problematic use of Internet, video games, mobile phones, instant messaging and social networks using MULTICAGE-TIC]. Adiccio­nes, 30 (1), 19-32.

Peterson, J., & Densley, J. (2017). Cyber violence: What do we know and where do we go from here? Aggression and Violent Behav-ior, 34, 193-200.

Puerta-Cortés, D. X., Carbonell, X., & Chamarro, A. (2012). Análisis de las propiedades psico­métricas de la versión en español del Internet Addiction Test [Analysis of the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of Internet Addiction Test]. Trastornos Adictivos, 14 (4), 99-104.

Reina, M., & Oliva, A. (2015). De la competen­cia emocional a la autoestima y satisfacción vital en adolescents [From emotional compe­tence to self-esteem and life satisfaction in adolescents]. Behavioral Psychology, 23 (2), 345-359.

Resett, S, & Gámez-Guadix, M. (2017). Traditional bullying and cyberbullying: Differences in emotional problems, and personality. Are cyberbullies more Machiavellians? Journal of Adolescence, 61, 113-1126.

Rey, L., Extremera, N., & Durán, M. A. (2012). Core self-evaluations, meta-mood experience, and happiness: Tests of direct and moderating effects. Personality and Indivi­dual Differences, 53 (3), 207-212.

Rey, L., Extremera, N., & Peláez-Fernández, M. A. (2016). Linking social support to psycho­logical distress in the unemployed: The moderating role of core self-evaluations. Social Indicators Research, 127, 435-445.

Rial, A., Golpe, S., Isorna, M., Braña, T., & Gó­mez, P. (2018). Minors and problematic In­ternet use: Evidence for better prevention. Computers in Human Behavior, 87, 140-145.

Savage, M. W., & Tokunaga, R. S. (2017). Moving toward a theory: Testing an integrated model of cyberbullying perpetration, aggression, so­cial skills, and Internet self-efficacy. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 353-361.

Shubnikova, E., Khuziakhmetov, A., & Khanolai­nen, D. (2017). Internet-addiction of adoles­cents: Diagnostic problems and pedagogical prevention in the educational environment. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13 (8), 5261-5271.

Smith, P. K. (2015). The nature of cyberbullying and what we can do about it. Journal of Research in Special Education Needs, 15 (3), 176-184.

Soto, A., de Miguel, N., & Pérez, V. (2018). Abor­daje de adicciones a nuevas tecnologías: una propuesta de intervención en contexto esco­lar y tratamiento de rehabilitación [Addressing addictions to new technologies: a proposal for intervention in a school context and reha­bilitation treatment]. Papeles del Psicólogo, 39 (2), 120-126.

Tomczyk, Ł., Szyszka, M., & Stoši´c, L. (2020). Problematic Internet use among youths. Education Sciences, 10 (6), 161.

Vila, M. M., Carballo, J. L., & Coloma, A. (2018). Rendimiento académico y cognitivo en el uso problemático de internet. Adicciones, 30 (2), 101-110.

Wartberg, L., & Lindenberg, K. (2020). Predic­tors of spontaneous remission of proble­matic internet use in adolescence: A one-year follow-up study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (2), 448.

Wilmer, H., & Chein, J. M. (2016). Mobile tech­nology habits: Patterns of association among device usage, intertemporal preference, im­pulse control, and reward sensitivity. Psycho­nomic Bulletin and Review, 23 (5), 1607-1614.

Wray-Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Flanagan, C. A. (2016). Developmental change in social responsibility during adolescence: An ecological perspective. Developmental Psycholo­gy, 52 (1), 130-142.

Xiao, J., Li, D., Jia, J., Wang, Y., Sun, W., & Li, D. (2019). The Role of Stressful Life Events and the Big Five Personality Traits in Adolescent Trajectories of Problematic Internet Use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33 (4), 360-370.

Xin, M., Xing, J., Pengfei, W., Houru, L., Meng­cheng, W., & Hong, Z. (2018). Online activi­ties, prevalence of Internet addiction and risk factors related to family and school among adolescents in China. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 7, 14-18.

Xinyu, R. (2017). The influence of peer relationship of college students on internet addiction: The mediating effect of core self-evaluations. China National Knowledge Infrastructure.

Ye, B., Li, L., Ma, T., Gao, L., Sheen, D., Liu, M., Wang, X., & Yang, Q. (2019). The effect of shyness on life satisfaction among Chinese college students: A moderated media­tion model. Current Psychology, 1-9.

Ye, Y., & Lin, L. (2015). Examining relations between locus of control, loneliness, subjec­tive well-being, and preference for online social interaction. Psychological Reports, 116 (1), 164-175.

Young, K. (1998). Internet addiction: The emer­gence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsycho­logy and Behavior, 1 (3), 237-244.

Yudes, C., Rey, L., & Extremera, N. (2020). Pre­dictive factors of cyberbullying perpetration amongst Spanish adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (11), 3967. https://doi. org/10.3390/ijerph17113967

Zhang, D., Huebner, E. S., & Tian, L. (2020). Longitudinal associations among neuroti­cism, depression, and cyberbullying in early adolescents. Computers in Human Beha­vior, 112, 106475.

Zych, I., Farrington, D., & Ttofi, M. (2019). Pro­tective factors against bullying and cyberbullying: A systematic review of meta-analyses. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 45, 4-19. ­

Carolina Yudes has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Granada. She currently works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the Universi­dad de Málaga (UMA). She is a member of the research group “Positive personal re­sources, well-being and health in applied contexts (CTS-1048)” of the UMA. Author of several scientific publications on bullying and cyberbullying at school and its relationship with positive personal resources.

Lourdes Rey has a PhD in Psychol-ogy and is Associate Professor of the Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment of the Fa­culty of Psychology at the Universidad de Málaga and Director of the “Master in Child and Adolescent Psychological Treatment” at the UMA. Director of the research group CTS-1048. Her main li­nes of research are positive personal re­sources in the field of health, well-being and psychological adjustment in diffe­rent applied contexts.

Natalio Extremera holds a PhD in Psychology and is Professor of the De­partment of Social Psychology at the UMA. He is a researcher member of the CTS-1048 group, as well as principal investigator of different R&D projects on the assessment and development of positive personal resources. His main lines of research are related to emo­tional skills, personal resources, well-being and work stress.


Data collected by PlumX Metrics. More information on the metrics collected can be found at