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Abstract

Communications via electronic technology have expanded to encompass daily life for most higher education students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The Pew Research Center reports that nearly 100% of undergraduate and graduate students access the Internet (Smith, Rainie, & Zikuhr, 2011). Computers, cell phones, and tablets are an integral part of university life and student communications using social media websites, text messaging, online chat, and websites are widespread. Electronic communications can be categorized as websites, application, or social media. A subset of these electronic communications, characterized as anonymous, may present a particular challenge to those working in higher education institutions. Created to provide students an opportunity for free speech and expression, anonymous electronic communications offer mockers, bullies, and other tormentors a nameless venue to critique, harass, and verbally abuse other students. The anonymous behavior has expanded and escalated to threats of rape, murder, campus bombing, and other acts of violence, some of which occurs among groups communicating in real time.

The impact in the classroom and on student life is an important consideration for campus administrators today, especially with the proliferation of cyberbullying. Although there may be little that can be done to control participation, administrators can benefit from understanding the availability and nature of anonymous electronic communications and the influence they can have on all aspects of student life. Further, an appreciation of the modes and effects can inform policy and decision making to provide the most beneficial student services management.

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