Cyberbullying is a type of bullying via communication technologies. As of 2005, MIOS has been doing research on cyberbullying and related online phenomena, such as celebrity bashing and cyber dating abuse. The common thread in this research is the focus on how individuals interact with each other online, especially in negative (cyberbullying, cyber dating abuse, celebrity bashing), but also in positive ways (positve bystander behavior in cyberbullying, online prosocial behavior, online friendship). Our research is explorative and descriptive, as well as directed twoards mapping out links, causes, and consequences, and developing interventions to diminish negative online behavior. Our studies mainly focus on youth, but lately we have also been examining online behavior among adults and in other contexts (e.g., at work). Our research is often multidisciplinary (e.g., collaborations with psychologists, health scientists, computer scientists, ...) and we use a range of different research methods, quantitative as well as qualitative. We often collaborate intensively with national and international experts in the cyberbullying research domain, but also with societal stakeholders. Next to academic valorisation, we highly value societal valorisation.

Our research

The first research on cyberbullying in Flanders was carried out by MIOS in government-funded studies between 2005 and 2008. These studies delivered the first representative findings on cyberbullying among Flemish youth. As of 2008, the research has been extended: large international collaborations (e.g., COST-action) were established and we studied cyberbullying via a more "contextual" approach, using social network analysis and large scale longitudinal research. We put our expertise on cyberbullying into practice in multidisciplinary research aimed at developing evidence-based interventions against cyberbullying (in the international projects Friendly ATTAC and AMICA). We expanded our view from victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying to bystanders (witnesses) and from adolescents to adults (cyberbullying in the workplace).

In our current research, we examine how former cyberbullying victims have coped with being bullied in the past and how their experiences with cyberbullying have influenced their life. Furthermore, we applied the knowledge gathered on cyberbullying among adolescents to other contexts and populations, e.g., to examine celebrity bashing. Moreover, in our current projects on celebrity bashing we link (fundamental) research and interventions on cyberbullying with (narratives about) celebrities.



  • Prof dr. Heidi Vandebosch: cyberbullying, celebrity bashing, online prosocial behavior, health communication (narratives)
  • Prof. dr. Michel Walrave: online privacy, sexting, sharenting, cyberbullying, cyber dating abuse, online marketing
  • Prof. dr. Karolien Poels: advertising, advertising processing, personalisation, native advertising, advertising effects
  • Prof. dr. Charlotte De Backer: social food studies, social talk, celebrities, celebrity bashing, dating behaviour, interpersonal relations
  • Dr. Ann DeSmet: cyberbullying among adolescents, games for health, intervention design, meta-analysis
  • Dr. Sara Pabian: cyberbullying, ICT use, online interactions, adolescents, longitudinal research
  • Dr. Joris Van Ouytsel: sexting, cyber dating abuse, online sexuality, role of digital media in romantic relationships, media literacy education
  • Dr. Sara Erreygers: emotions, adolescence, prosocial and antisocial online behaviour, cyberbullying
  • Dr. Sara Bastiaensens: cyberbullying bystanders, experimental research, online forum analysis
  • Michelle Symons:  adolescence, prosocial and antisocial online behaviour, cyberbullying
  • Anne Vermeulen: on- and offline sharing of emotions among adolescents
  • Gaëlle Ouvrein: celebrity bashing, cyberbullying, adolescents, celebrities, gossip
  • Karen Verswijvel: online friendships, sharenting
  • Rowan Daneels: digital games, adolescents and games, meaningful gaming,  (moral) elevation, VR, social robots

Former research group members

  • Dr. Ivana Vranjes: emotions, emotion regulation, cyberbullying in the workplace
  • Dr. Katrien Van Cleemput: on- and offline communication among adolescents, social network analysis
  • Dr. Kathleen Van Royen: transgressive online sexual behavior, automatic monitoring on SNS, reflective cues, UX researc, facereader, thinking-out-loud 
  • Denis Wegge: cyberbullying among adolescents, social network analysis