Adolescent Deviations, Phenomenon Of Cybervandalism. Types. Prevention


The article describes theoretical reasons of one of the deviations – the cyber vandalism in teenagers' environment like existential, individualized, societal, pragmatic, idealistic, universal. Vandal activity in social networks is steadily increasing. New types of cyber vandalism appear in teenager’s environment of megalopolises, where involvement in social networks tends to 100%. In this research teenager says, that don’t see anything reprehensible committing vandalism in the network. Hacking other's pages, Internet trolling, cyber bullying does not the big evil and become ordinary. The alternative consequences for the victims and the actors themselves present serious risks for the socialization, mental and physical health of the underage. Urban environment requires city-dwellers to increase the pace of social transactions and teenagers’ psyche doesn’t stand up, so teenagers are increasingly trying to find a way out of accumulated aggression in social networks. Starting trolling classmates or in search of shelter from the daily urban race, teenagers become victims of cyber bullying spending time in the networks. Unsafe behavior in the networks leads to loss of confidentiality, because interviewed respondents don’t consider hacking someone else's data as something reprehensible. Empirical data was gathered in Ekaterinburg the initial assessment of the degree of social acceptability of vandalism and its potential manifestations in the space of social networks for representatives of Russian urban teenagers, also in teens’ chats, opened and closed on-line groups, as well as through questioning, processed by statistical packages and analyzed in a cross-disciplinary manner within psychology, sociology, philosophy, economic and social development of the territory.

Keywords: Adolescent deviationsteenagersInternetsocialcyber vandalism


The inevitable consequence of the rapid Internetization of Russian society, which occurred in the past 8-10 years - in the formation of a special context for the growth of adolescents and young people (Danilov, & Olesova, 2013). At the moment in Russia, the first generations of teenagers and young people, who start life where the Internet is not a bizarre novelty, but a habitual and indispensable attribute of everyday reality (Obolenskaya, 2017). In sociological searches we know that the Internet with those or other purposes enjoys the absolute majority of Russian teenagers and young people. In particular, it can be mentioned that, according to WCIOM (2017), among Russians younger than 24 years, the proportion of active (daily) Internet users reaches 90%. According to another WCIOM research (WCIOM, 2012), young people spend more free time on the Internet: if on average 21% of Russians spend their leisure time in the virtual space, 44% of them are already recruited among youth under 24 years old. It is also noticeable that the Internet has become for the majority of representatives of Russian youth the main source of information about the world: up to 65% of young people under 24 and up to 50% of young people aged 25-34 learn news from the Internet (although the average for the entire population is only 32%). There is also direct evidence of a greater use of the Internet among the youth audience: Russians aged 14-23 years, the proportion of Internet users reaches 94%, while in the 54-63-year-old group only 37%, and among the population older than 64, only 13% are recruited (Volchenko, 2017).

Problem Statement

Internetization has become a macro-social trend for the entire Russian society, and a certain imbalance in the use of the network by different age groups is still more than obvious. Adolescents and young people are at the forefront of the Internetization of Russian society, and the number of active Internet users among their representatives is approaching 100%, becoming a seriously problem. But let´s look at the indicated problem more widely. Now 89% of Russians have social network accounts (WCIOM, 2012), given that 74% of the Russian population live in cities - also people use the Internet in the countryside. We go further: 49% of account holders spend from 5 to 10 hours per month, and 23% - 20 hours or more, according to analysts, a resident of Russia gets on the network, on average, 9.6 hours per month - approximately 19.2 minutes a day ( With this indicator in the difficult matter of killing time, we managed to get to the first place in the world in 2011. True, in recent years, Russia lost to Latin American countries Argentina and Brazil. Analysts connect the trend with the mental characteristics of peoples, as the most sociable in the top ten, Argentina, Brazil and Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Israel, Canada, Peru, Chile and Mexico. Countries with a large population, where 80-90% of the population spend at least 24 hours a month in the network – necessary to pay attention to the threat of significant damage to the economy, society and personality (Kruzhkova, & Devyatovskaya, 2017; Obolenskaya, 2017). However, it becomes easy to manage social processes – the absolute majority of the population is connected to the network, where it is possible to form public opinion more actively, and more time the population will spend online.

Increasing time spent in the network brings from off-line to the network many processes and phenomena. Including communication, relationships with friends, colleagues, loved ones. Also negative communication processes such as trolling and bullying are transferred to the network. In addition, these processes in the network are much broader than in the off-line, they are pulling on themselves ordinary vandals, because it is anonymity and greater impunity.

Research Questions

Why trolls need trolling? Trolling and bullying, both online and offline, stand in the position of the ancient Greek sophists that it is possible to prove and disprove everything. Anything, there would be a desire and interest. Sophists turned the opponent in their favor even the weakest arguments and neutralized the strong arguments, exposing him as a laughingstock in the eyes of the inhabitants of the policy (Bochaver, & Khlomov, 2014). They use the words power.

Course sophistry has changed a lot from antiquity science. At first, influenced by the development of industrial and post-industrial societies mass culture and conveyor production made such and sophistry, in ancient time sophistry was an occupation, accessible to a few, then the emergence. Secondly, 20-21 centuries spiritual crisis gave rise to the nihilism of universal human values, expressed in extreme coarseness, aggressiveness, inhumanity and destructiveness. Third, it is technological progress, which contributed to the increase in the scale of this phenomenon. Sophists area was the central area of ​​the policy, and the ancient Greek court, cyberbullying came out into the Internet. Fourthly, it is rejuvenation, the main category of teenagers (13-18 years old) using cyberbullying as communication. Whereas the sophists were old, educated and sedate elders. Fifth, it is psychologization. It was important for the Greeks to challenge the thesis of the opponent and make fun of his inability to confront; now it is more important to hurt the person more severely, regardless of the content.

Nevertheless, modern cyberbullying and Internet trolling are also based on the strength of the word, its ambiguity and polyinterpretation, as well as the use of various tricks - sophisms.

One of the alternative practices of interpreting the phenomenon of Internet trolling is the methodology of cultural-anthropological knowledge. Cultural-anthropological discourse allows us to determine the strategies of human behavior in the context of a specific socio-cultural system (local, historical, religious, social, national, etc.). A distinctive feature of cultural anthropology - in comparison with other socio-humanitarian research traditions - is the primary use of included observation to obtain empirical material. This, in turn, makes it possible to formulate theoretical models of the phenomenon under study.

Purpose of the Study

To understand the essence of the phenomenon of Internet-trolling we take advantage of the principles of structural functionalism as the leading methodological direction in modern cultural anthropology. The structural-functional approach develops the idea of ​​the interaction of elements in the Internet-trolling system on a functional basis. A. Radcliff-Brown, one of the founders of structural functionalism in cultural anthropology, ‘any human hostel assumes the existence of a social structure consisting of a network of relations between individuals and groups of individuals’ (Radcliffe-Brown, 2001). The structural-functional model of the phenomenon in question includes two basic interacting elements: ‘subject of Internet trolling’ and ‘opponent system’. Actually, the process of interaction of these elements, we can designate as a ‘provocative strategy’. There is a limited set of so-called provocative strategies, which potentially use the subject of Internet trolling, in our opinion. Strategies are formed as a result of the interaction of two systems - the subject of Internet trolling and the opposing party, to which the provocation itself is directed. As the last - the opposing system – can act: another individual, social group, material objects or artifacts, the sphere of spiritual culture, the universe. Accordingly, we can conditionally designate these provocative strategies as:

  • individualized (subject - it \ she),

  • societal (subject-they),

  • pragmatic (subject - material culture),

  • idealistic (subject - spiritual culture),

  • Universalist (subject - the whole world).

Each of the strategies is the reason of specific topics and questions for subsequent provocative communication.

Individualized provocative strategy is all topics and issues related to a person's personal and moral choices. In a teenage environment, Internet-trolling is mainly concerned with private (including intimate) life, gender relations, ethical values ​​(friendship, duty, truth, freedom, etc.).

Within the framework of the societal provocative strategy, the issues of human interaction with the social environment are touched upon. Traditionally, issues related to the role and significance of social institutions becomes the object of provocative communication. Given the teenage nature of provocative communication, those most sensitive are those that are primarily related to the institution of family and education.

Pragmatic provocative strategy generalizes questions and topics related to the practical mastering of the surrounding space by a person: work activity, solving daily everyday situations. In essence, the object of Internet trolling is the question of what tools and methods can be used to achieve effective subordination of the ‘second nature’. Among the adolescents, the most topical and subject to critical mockery are issues related to the ‘problem of choice’ and ‘the availability or sufficiency of [moral, psychological] resource’ for solving practical problems.

An idealistic provocative strategy is aimed at criticizing questions and topics that are primarily due to aesthetic values ​​and the attitude of communicators to them. Aesthetic values ​​are formed as a reflection of the fundamental aesthetic categories: beautiful, ugly, comic and tragic. Speaking about teenage specifics in the manifestation of this provocative strategy, the most frequent questions and topics about the perception of ‘me’ in the eyes of others - how much ‘I’ correspond to the tastes and perceptions of others. In a broad sense, this type of provocative strategy is associated with negative criticism.

The universalist provocative strategy is revealed in the discussion of ontological issues, among which the main is: the problem of being and existence of man in the world, borders and influence of man on the course of events. In a teenage environment, Internet-trolling is subjected to the questions ‘how much this world needs me’, as well as ‘a priori conflict me with this world’.

Of course, the proposed provocative strategies are ‘ideal types’, in a clean and strictly agreed form they can be an occasional. M. Weber, who proposed the methodological category of the ‘ideal type’, believed that science should create such unambiguous ‘pure’ (‘ideal’) constructions of this kind. ‘In them, the greatest semantic adequacy could be expressed; but precisely because they are so rarely found in reality in an absolutely ideal pure form’ (Weber, 1990, p. 627).

Research Methods

At the heart of our study are three complementary approaches:

  • sociological survey carried by the authors in 2017-2018. In one of Russian metropolis Ekaterinburg, where is 1,5 million citizens was the study territory. Respondents selection was a quota sample was used by sex, age and self-assessment of the financial situation. The total number of respondents was 304 (N = 304) adolescents and youths, who living in Ekaterinburg.

  • focus groups in February-March 2018. In total there are 4 focus groups with participants of 20-40 years. The task before the participants is to depict the reasons (roots) and consequences of cyber-vandalism (crown), it is possible to give a prescription for prevention.

  • study of youth groups in the network. Started in February 2018, it is planned to increase the number of studied groups to 20 with subsequent content analysis. Collected primary material of 3 groups (overheard school number, overheard university, overheard colleges).


The sociological survey showed that in the minds of most of the respondents there is an important paradox of attitude towards vandalism. The negative attitude of most respondents to vandalism contrasts with a stereotyped understanding of what vandalism is specifically about. As such, the general attitude of the majority of respondents to vandalism is indeed estimated negative. The answers to the open question, what is vandalism, (Figure 1 ) basically come down to different destructive characteristics: destruction, anger, committing crimes. Similar results are obtained from the analysis of the answers received for a similar question, but with ready-made answers (Figure 2 ): harm, damage, destruction, insult, senselessness come to the forefront. Such distribution of answers suggests that both provoked and unprovoked associations of respondents with vandalism tend mainly to negative assessments.

Figure 1: Unprovoked associations with the vandalism concept (open-ended question, TOP-5 answers), % of the respondents number
Unprovoked associations with the vandalism concept (open-ended question, TOP-5 answers), % of the respondents number
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Figure 2: Provocative associations with the vandalism concept (closed-ended question, TOP-5 answers), % of the respondents number
Provocative associations with the vandalism concept (closed-ended question, TOP-5 answers), % of the respondents number
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Positive options (such as, for example, ‘self-expression’) among associations with vandalism also sound, but against the backdrop of negative characteristics they are lost. Indirectly, such an associatively negative attitude of the respondents to vandalism is confirmed by the fact that 92.4% of respondents exclude the possibility of deliberate vandalism and consider that such actions are in principle unacceptable, or at least requires very good reasons. In other words, in the eyes of most of the young people interviewed, vandalism is a deliberately negative phenomenon, a pronounced readiness for its justification and acceptance in their responses is not traced. However, it is important to understand the specific actions of the respondents who extrapolate this attitude to vandalism?

The respondents consider manifestations of vandalism to be a limited number of actions. Judging by the answers received, the understanding of vandalism for most of them is reduced mainly to the commission of only those actions that involve the most obvious and material damage to other people or their material property. The only action that more than half of the respondents are ready to attribute to vandalism is the inscription on the walls in the entrance (it is classified as vandalism by 55.9% of the respondents). Thus, only a minority of respondents refer to the manifestations of vandalism as many actions that can clearly be attributed to its manifestations: creation of passages in fences (attributed to vandalism by 44.4% of respondents), graffiti (40.5%), inscriptions on desks (34.2%), the walking of dogs in the wrong place (22.4%) and a number of other practices. These answers indicate that vandalism is simultaneously condemned by most of the young people interviewed, and is understood by them to be mostly vague and speculative. At the level of value judgments and abstract reasoning they condemn vandalism, but very roughly understand which specific actions are manifestations of vandalism. It is also significant in this case that the only action that counts more than half of the respondents as vandalism was the inscription in the entrances. The application of inscriptions on the walls not only presupposes the obvious harming of someone's property, but is perhaps one of the most popular mass images of vandalism. The fact that more than half of those surveyed referred to vandalism as a vandalism indicates that the majority of respondents are stereotyped and superficial about the vandalism.

For us in this case, the most important is that the hacking of someone else's page in a social network most of the respondents to manifestations of vandalism still does not attribute (Figure 3 ).

Figure 3: Hacking another's pages in a social network is vandalism or it’s OK, % of the respondents number
Hacking another's pages in a social network is vandalism or it’s OK, % of the respondents number
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This circumstance indicates an important contradiction, which directly indicates that the respondents did not have certain clear ideas about the phenomenon of cyber-vandalism. On the one hand, at the level of associations and basic assessments, most of them refer to vandalism in general as a negative phenomenon. On the other hand, these representations are not extrapolated to virtual space: hacking a foreign page in a social network is not perceived as a manifestation of vandalism. Of course, this contradiction must be interpreted cautiously: the fact that hacking a foreign page in a social network is not perceived by most respondents as a manifestation of vandalism does not yet prove that young people are approving the appropriate actions. Nevertheless, indirectly this distribution of answers leads to the assumption that the majority of the young people interviewed do not directly link the page in the social network with the associative series that, in their understanding, is characterized by vandalism. The conclusion is that for most of them, hacking a page in a social network is not drawing, harming, destroying, insulting or otherwise destructive actions associated with the notion of vandalism. That is, potentially such an action for most of the young people interviewed may prove to be quite acceptable, not causing any expressed condemnation.

And here it is important to consider that such a potential acceptability of cyber-vandalism is relatively universal. The statistical check showed that the sex, the area of ​​residence and the intensity of the use of the Internet have virtually no impact on either the overall attitude towards vandalism or the readiness to attribute hacking of other people's pages on social networks to its manifestations. Vandalism in any case is estimated by most respondents as a rather negative phenomenon, and hacking of other people's pages you social networks is not considered as its manifestation. Of course, it is important to understand that the interviewed young people do not have a real experience of hacking other people's pages in the social network. Among the respondents, there was not a single person who at least once did something similar (or at least none of them admitted this). Therefore, one can say that the respondents' arguments about such actions are completely or mainly speculative; they do not rely on real experience. But it is also important that at the associative level, the majority of respondents do not have a sacred attitude to other people's pages in social networks. Although they have no experience of personally engaging in such cyber-vandal actions, there is also no massive condemnation of such actions. This suggests that cyber-vandalism in their understanding is quite acceptable, not taboo.

In various types of cyberbullying, various types of tricks-sophisms are used; they are both logical and subjective-psychological. So, for example, the most common trick, present in most types of cyberbullying, Internet trolling, flamingo, etc., is ‘the transition to personalities’. Its popularity lies in the fact that in adolescence, the development of intelligence does not have time for emotional, hormonal and psychological development. This leads to the fact that, under the influence of emotions, even the most ‘right’ teenager descends into aggressive communication to the level of ‘skirting board’, and the dispute turns into a stage which will be more pleasantly and more efficiently offended by the exuberance of participants at the public.

In Internet trolling, there are often such tricks as ‘proof from the opposite’, when the troll, having no arguments to disprove the opponent's position and affirm his truth, begins to prove the opposite, because, based on the law of the excluded third, one true position, one false, and the third is not given. The second most popular sophism of Internet trolling is the ‘argument to ignorance’ trick, when one of the participants claims its superiority due to the use of a large number of complex concepts, phrases, special terms. In this case, the troll does not necessarily need to know the meaning of these terms and concepts, the main thing is that they do not know the opponent and, using this, you can depreciate him, thus showing that he is a complete ‘loser’.

Slander is built on a psychological trick ‘scarecrow’, when the information spread by a teenager about himself is distorted and turns into harm to the author. As an illustration, we can cite the situation that happened in February, 2018 with the schoolgirl from Ufa city, under the photos of the girl, the troll put a frivolous title, after which the child was hounded, both online and in offline space (Figure 4 ).

Figure 4: The trick is ‘scarecrow’ and its use for spreading false information (title on the photo: This is Vika, charming, romantic, cheerful. And she has syphilis).
The trick is ‘scarecrow’ and its use for spreading false information (title on the photo: This is Vika, charming, romantic, cheerful. And she has syphilis).
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From presented examples we can see, that cyberbullying and Internet-trolling, although use a variety of sophisms, but their relationship to the ancient Greek art of the dispute is becoming more distant.

Why cyberbullying and Internet-trolling are so attractive to teenagers? Adolescent age is calls the period of the second birth, since it is during this period of life that a change in the sense of life, the scale of values ​​occurs, the formation of a new I, adult and free of addictions begins (Baranov, & Rozhina, 2015). But on the other hand, the teenager remains a child, which is expressed in his unpreparedness and unwillingness to bear responsibility for his actions, words (Bairamov, Raidugin, & Vyalykh, 2015). The contradiction of the teenage personality is expressed in the following features:

  • The desire for independence, the teenager seeks to feel independent, meaningful, to join the adult reality, but at the same time, without giving up a full break with childhood.

  • Change in socialization, because the leading groups in the social life of adolescents are the reference groups of peers, classmates, and like-minded people. The admission to the reference groups leads to a change in the value grounds.

  • Cognitive development. To establish themselves in reference groups, it is necessary to have distinctive qualities and characteristics that will allow them to be accepted into them. And the possession of a broader outlook, knowledge that goes beyond the school curriculum, will allow a teenager to declare himself and his social significance.

Focus group work showed that participants are aware of the main forms of cyber-vandalism, met it on the web (Figure 5 ).

Figure 5: Image participants focus group of causes and effects of Internet trolling
Image participants focus group of causes and effects of Internet trolling
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It is believed that the basis for vandalizing communication in the network is undeveloped aggression, loneliness, idleness, envy, impunity, excitement, the need for a sense of superiority, inner weakness, and experience of the victim.


Interest in the participation of adolescents in cyberbullying and internet-trolling can be explained by existential that acquire the leading importance in his being.

First, it is freedom, manifested in freedom of choice of decisions, actions, thoughts, feelings, etc. But freedom, it is also the responsibility for this choice, and to it the teenager, as a rule, is not ready, substituting freedom for permissiveness in the end. And the Internet space for such freedom is the most fertile soil, because the possibility of anonymity provides unlimited and uncontrolled exercise of choice without any responsibility for its consequences. Teenage freedom in its implementation faces the following problem. A teenager demands freedom and independence, which adults are not ready to give him. By depriving a teenager of freedom, denying him any rights, through control of behavior, adults at the same time deprive him of the opportunity to become responsible. This position of adults forces the child to seek the possibility of expressing and asserting his freedom elsewhere. And this somewhere is the Internet space, which liberates, disinhibited, where absolute freedom reigns, which can be realized as anything. Where control and responsibility seem to be something ghostly.

Secondly, this is loneliness. Existential loneliness, this is a hopeless limit state. It is through loneliness that the path to freedom opens. A teenager desperately needs to be alone, in a situation where he remains alone with himself, with his experiences, ideas, dreams, thoughts. Parents, and other important adults, are often not ready to give the child the right to be alone, contrasting loneliness with parental control. A teenager is looking for a possibility of seclusion on the Internet, blogging, LJ, etc. But the Internet is a public space; any information that falls on its expanses remains there forever, becomes available to other users and can be used against the author. So a teenager can become a victim of cyberbullying or its manifestations, Internet trolling, slander, etc.

Thirdly, love, as a support and foundation of human being, betrays life meaning. Adolescence is a period of paradoxical love. Striving to be an adult, but staying with the child, the teenager demands unconditional love. Adults, on the other hand, seeing a child in it, make adult demands on adolescents, replacing unconditional conditional love. Absence of love, excluding any requirements and conditions, from adults can lead to a sense of the teenager's senselessness and absurdity of its existence, which is expressed in destructive and vandal (destructive) behavior. The implementation of destructive behavior in the network is characterized by anonymity and apparent impunity, which leads to the emergence of a teenager as an Internet aggressor. But destruction can be directed to itself, which leads to autodestruction, contributing to the adolescent's falling under the influence of the so-called. "Groups of death" and other extremist-directed Internet communities. To prevent this, a child, even adolescents, needs to love and manifest love and acceptance; let him be himself, without demanding anything in return.

From the research point of view, the allocation of certain provocative strategies allows us to develop a more effective system of preventive measures, especially considering the involvement of children in this type of provocative communication. However, the most controversial issue remains the possibility of developing a targeted (targeted) system for preventing Internet trolling in a teenage environment, taking into account the proposed types of provocative strategies. So, one of the possible ways of solving Internet trolling is to exclude the possibility of anonymity of personal presence in virtual space. However, taking into account the development of modern information technologies, this will not solve the current problem, because there will always be effective ways of circumventing such prohibitions. It should be borne in mind that "trolling" in a teenage environment is by no means an exceptional phenomenon. The active development of the Internet, unfortunately, gave the trolling phenomenon a new breath. Metaphorically generalizing, the teenage environment, due to its socio-psychological and age specificity, is "programmed" for trolling. The idealization of the adolescent and his behavior will only delay valuable time that could be used for preventive measures. Accordingly, the best way to prevent Internet trolling will be the struggle not with the form of its manifestation, in this case the network, but with the actual problem situation.

We consider it possible to develop a preventive system that takes into account the multidimensional nature of this form of deviant behavior. Attention to each type of provocative strategy will allow us to work out a specific – more flexible and situational - set of methods and steps, as well as formulate recommendations and professional requirements for a specialist who will deal with it. So, for example, within the framework of a societal provocative strategy, a specialist in the prevention system can refer to specific theories. In particular, such can be the theory of the ‘mirror I’ (Cooley, 2000), and also in general the theory of symbolic interactionism. To develop a preventive system with a pragmatic provocative strategy, the optimal, in our opinion, is the theory of the theory of normative conflict, developed by Merton & Merton, (1968). The preventive system within the framework of an individualized provocative strategy can be developed on the basis of the so-called. ‘Karpman's dramatic triangle’ (Karpman, 2014). A promising direction is the consideration of other theories that will allow us to develop a system of preventive measures for universal and idealistic provocative strategies.

Thus, it can be concluded that in order for a teenager not to experience the harmful influence of cyberbullying, Internet trolling, flaming and other types of Internet destruction, no matter on whose side he acts, he needs a reliable adult next to him, loving, understanding and accepting. The one with whom you want to share your joys, sorrows, problems, accomplishments, discoveries, ideas, feelings and experiences is greater than with the faceless anonymous Internet.

Of course, the proposed theories and approaches are not a panacea for all possible manifestations of deviations in the network, but the proposed research vector makes an attempt to analyze this phenomenon analytically into elementary and minimal components, which potentially serves its deeper understanding and, accordingly, prevention.


This study was prepared on the basis of support of Russian Science Foundation (RSF) grant 17-18-01278.


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Obolenskaya, A. G., Rudenkin, D. V., Porozov, R. Y., & Blinova, O. A. (2018). Adolescent Deviations, Phenomenon Of Cybervandalism. Types. Prevention. In R. Valeeva (Ed.), Teacher Education - IFTE 2018, vol 45. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 283-294). Future Academy.