Ph.D. Candidate in the Human Development, Learning, and Culture program
Rachel’s dissertation research seeks to understand the relationship between recalled memories of traumatic experiences early in life and current experiences with cyberbullying and cyber dating violence among emerging adults.
Today’s emerging adults, referred to as Generation Z, are the first group of young adults to have spent their entire lives in the technological age. With as many as 96% of young adults owning their own digital device (Anderson, & Jiang 2018), indeed, much of their lives is spent online. Like generations before, the young people of generation Z are spending more time with peers and dating partners than they did in their teens (Nelson, Padilla-Walker, Christensen, Evans, & Carroll, 2010), and in the current technological age, many of these interactions occur online (Draucker & Matrsolf, 2010). The ease of access to technology has served a positive benefit, as it allows for young people to deepen and maintain relationships (Lenhart, 2015; Mishna, McLuckie, & Saini, 2009; Temple & Choi, 2014) via ongoing conversations and self-disclosure between friends – an essential milestone of development (Buhrmester & Prager, 1995; Temple & Choi, 2014; Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to the increased use of technology among emerging adults, as it increases the risk of online victimization (Mosley & Lancaster, 2019), which often leads to issues with mental health (Cripps & Stermac, 2018; Pabian & Vandebosch, 2016; Medrano, Juvoven & Gross, 2008; Lopez Rosales, & Gámez-Guadix, 2018; Wood, Schrag, & Busch-Armendariz, 2020). Indeed, typical problems that arise for young adults, such as bullying (Howard, Debnam, & Strausser, 2019; Reed, Tolman, & Ward, 2016, Wright, 2017), and dating violence (Draucker, & Martsolf, 2010; Stonard, Bowen, Walker, & Price, 2017), have moved into online contexts. Given the emergent nature of technology, little is understood about the etiologies of online victimization experiences, and how early life experiences put some emerging adults at greater risk of online victimization than others. Namely, are there certain traumatic childhood experiences that increase the risk of being victimized online later in life, whether at the hands of a romantic partner via cyber dating violence, or by peers via cyberbullying?
Rachel’s dissertation research seeks to understand the relationship between recalled memories of traumatic experiences early in life and current experiences with cyberbullying and cyber dating violence among emerging adults. Through the investigation of reports of traumatic early life experiences as well as current online victimization and mental health, the goal of her research is to begin to determine how to better understand the relationship between early trauma and current victimization so that intervention programs for young people can better support the mental health of emerging adults who are at increased risk of online victimization.
Rachel Baitz is a Doctoral Candidate studying Human Development, Learning, and Culture at the University of British Columbia. Her research work focuses on exploring developmental factors that influence the ways in which adolescents and young adults engage online technologies in the context of their peer and romantic relationships. Specifically, under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Shapka, her current research work focuses on how relational problems in young adulthood, such as cyber dating violence and cyberbullying, are related to memories of adverse experiences early on in life. Further, her work explores how wellbeing and the bonds young people form with others might buffer negative online experiences and mental health.