Cyberbullying has taken bullying to the next level, allowing teens to harass their peers online.

Cyberbullying On Social Media Linked To Teen Depression Resized Thumbnail Min

Bullying is not new—it’s something that’s been around for as long as time. Cyberbullying, however, has taken bullying to the next level in our modern world, allowing teens to harass their peers online, from the safety of their own bedroom or home.

Like traditional bullying, cyberbullying can come in a variety of unfamiliar forms, including: impersonation, commenting or acting as someone else in a hurtful way; cyberstalking, frequently following, contacting and harassing the victim; outing, sharing secrets or personal information about someone to a large group of people; and trolling, winding people up online by asking immature comments or making mean comments.

With access to technology at an all-time high for kids and teens, it’s no wonder this has become a serious problem. 

  • 52% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying
  • 24% have experienced repeated bullying via cellphone or internet
  • 95% of teens have witnessed this behavior online and ignored it

Researchers for Cyberbullying.org published similar findings. In a study of 457 high school in the Midwestern United States:

  • 19.4% said they’ve heard rumors online
  • 15% has been cyberbullied 
  • 21% have experienced this bullying more than once


Link to Teen Depression

The growing prevalence of this problem has lead to a new issue: teen depression. In recent years, we’ve all been witness to a variety of news stories about young kids committing suicide as a result of this bullying. While the “health effects” of cyberbullying are “widely unknown,” according to a report on Livescience.com, it’s clear there’s a link between teen depression and this modern form of bullying.

“Unlike traditional forms of bullying, youth who are the targets of cyberbullying at school are at greater risk for depression than are the youth who bully them,” according to NIH researchers. Why? Because victims cannot see and therefore identify their harasser, making them more likely to feel isolated, helpless or dehumanized.

In fact, among 1,320 students from Australia, those who were cyber bullied (as opposed to traditional bullying, which is still dangerous and prevalent), reported significantly higher depressive symptoms. They were also found to engage in other dangerous activities including increase drinking and smoking in addition to getting lower grades in school, all of this according to a study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health.

As a parent, it can be difficult to know when your child is the victim of cyberbullying, as many studies have found that children rarely tell an adult about what they’re experiencing. As such, it’s important to be aware of the signs of cyberbullying. According to StopBullying.gov, some of these signs include:

  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares

  • Declining grades

  • Changes in eating habits, kids skipping meals

  • Sudden loss of friends, avoidance of social situations

  • Decreased self esteem

  • Destructive behaviors, like running away or harming themselves

Cyberbullying is no longer just a buzzword; it’s a real problem around the world, affecting more and more children every year. 


About Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is a lifestyle and education blogger and the editor of Whooo's Reading and Carpe Daily. She's been featured on PBS.org, Home.com and FamilyEducation.com.

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