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The digital information resources offered to French-speaking Belgian and Canadian parents in response to the problem of cyberbullying : a critical discourse analysis

Mathieu Bégin, Alice T’Kint, Pierre Fastrez, Normand Landry

Research Framework : The term “cyberbullying” refers to any situation where a person or group communicates content using social-digital technologies in order to harm the well-being of a third person. This research focuses on digital information resources (DIR) addressed to French-speaking parents in Belgium and Canada, in response to this social problem.

Objectives : Based on the theory of critical discourse analysis, our research aims to describe the “ways of acting” and the “ways of being” most often proposed to French-speaking parents in Belgium and Canada, then to evaluate them in terms of what scientific research judges appropriate in this area.

Methodology : An analysis of the discourse of 17 Belgian DIRs and 35 Canadian DIRs was conducted. All the propositions presenting “ways of acting” and “ways of being” in these documents have been classified in analytical categories taken from the scientific documentation.

Results : The discourse of the Belgian DIR prescribes modalities of intervention in the situation of cyberbullying which are proactive ; preventive actions focusing on the promotion of respect for others ; a media education prescribing good uses ; the exercise of a democratic parenting with an authoritarian tendency. The discourse of Canadian DIR prescribes modes of intervention in cyberbullying that focus on the well-being of the child-victim ; preventive actions aimed at understanding the socio-media universe of young people ; media education based on support and open dialogue ; the exercise of a democratic parenting with a permissive tendency.

Conclusions : The two countries are different in terms of “ways of acting” and “ways of being” promoted in the discourses of the DIR. Our observations are consistent with the findings of surveys showing that parenting in Latin Europe is conducted in a more authoritarian way than in Canada.

Contribution : Our research confirms the postulate of the critical discourse analysis theory to which discourses are oriented by common sense knowledge (beliefs, norms, values) geographically and culturally located.