Studies Link Teen Cyberbullying With Depression

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Adolescents and teens who report being bullied online face an increased risk for depression, according to a new review of social media studies published in JAMA Pediatrics.

CyberbullyingReports indicate 95 percent of American teenagers use the internet and up to 81 percent use social media. The researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada say the studies indicate approximately 23 percent of children report being bullied online.

To investigate whether this online bullying has an impact on mental health similar to that of real-world bullying, Michele P. Hamm, Ph.D., and coauthors reviewed 36 studies focused on the health-related effects of cyberbullying.

The majority of the studies were conducted in the United States and included middle and high school students between the ages of 12 and 18, and most participants were female. The data also showed Facebook was the most commonly used platform, with up to 97% indicating they had an account.

The data showed the median percentage of children bullied online was 23 percent, with the most common reason being relationship issues. The results indicated that girls were most often the recipient of the bullying. The results also showed cyberbullying was consistently linked with an increased risk of depression, with some studies also indicating correlation between cyberbullying and anxiety.

“The evolution of social media has created an online world that has benefits and potential harms to children and adolescents. Cyberbullying has emerged as a primary concern in terms of safety, and, while publications remain inconclusive regarding its effects on mental health, there is some evidence to suggest that there are associations of harms with exposure to cyberbullying as well as cyberbullying behavior.

“This review provides important information characterizing the issue of cyberbullying that will help inform prevention and management strategies, including attributes of the recipients and perpetrators, reasons for and the nature of bullying behaviors, and how recipients currently react to and manage bullying behaviors,” the study concludes.

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