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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how features of electronic communication (text messaging, Facebook, and Twitter) make it an ideal environment for peer influence, and how positive and negative peer reinforcement via electronic communication relates to the development and perpetuation of antisocial behavior. Electronic modes of communication allow youth to be in contact with their peer group instantaneously and continuously. The continuous access provided by electronic forms of communication may intensify the role of positive and negative reinforcement processes. Electronic communication extends youths’ ability to engage in the aversive behaviors that characterize peer coercion. This immediacy also permits less aversive, positive reinforcement processes—such as laughter and encouragement—to continue even when peers are not physically together. The role of text message communication in peer coercion and deviancy training is examined, and illustrative examples are presented. The challenges associated with measuring and observing children’s involvement with an ever-changing virtual landscape are also discussed.

Keywords: text messaging, electronic, communication, peer, coercion, deviancy training, antisocial behavior

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