An investigation into the problem of cyberstalking in Ireland and an examination of the usefulness of classifying cyberstalking as an addictive disorder

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Breslin, Paul
Issue Date
MA in Addiction Studies
Dublin Business School
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Cyberstalking is a new phenomenon that is facing our society. It is a poorly researched and widely misunderstood concept that is only now coming to the attention of researchers. There are numerous features of the internet that make it an attractive tool for harassment such as low cost, deliberately low regulation, ease of use, immediacy, potentially anonymous nature, law restrictions, widespread availability, stealth, insignificance of physical distance and victim depersonalisation. In this way a space has been opened up that allows individuals a forum to harass, intimidate and threaten others. The purpose of the research is to investigate the prevalence of cyberstalking in an Irish sample and to explore the possibility that cyberstalking should be viewed as an addictive disorder. A literature review of the small but growing body of research relating to cyberstalking was undertaken. In order to address the research question a survey questionnaire was devised so that the results assess aspects of cyberstalking behaviour that may be indicative of an addictive disorder. Email and social networking sites were the cyberstalking tools of interest in the study. 100 participants were recruited online through Email and Facebook to take part in the study. Participation consisted of completing the online questionnaire. The results were compared to the criteria for addictive disorders suggested by Goodman. The findings suggest that cyberstalking is indeed a pervasive problem in contemporary Irish society and some evidence supports the contention that it should be considered an addictive disorder. Furthermore, the results support a number of trends present in the cyberstalking literature. The conclusions drawn indicate that the phenomenon of cyberstalking deserves examination and that further and more extensive research is needed in the area to adequately address the issue.