Cyberbullying on Social Media Linked to Teen Depression

Written By Jessica Thiefels
Category: Mobile Health

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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, allowing teens to harass their peers online.

Know the Facts About Cyberbullying

With access to technology and cell phones at an all-time high for kids and teens, it’s no wonder this has become a serious problem. According to McAfee’s, “Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying,” roughly 52% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 24% have experienced repeated bullying via cellphone or internet. (i-SAFE Foundation)
  • 95% of teens have witnessed this behavior online and ignored it. (PEW Research Center)

Researchers for 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.

Like traditional bullying, there are many types of cyberbullying, some of which include: 

  • 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
  • Trolling: winding people up online by asking immature comments or making mean comments.

The Link Between Cyberbullying and Teen Depression

The growing prevalence of this problem has led to a new issue: teen depression. In recent years, we’ve been witness to a variety of news stories about young kids committing suicide as a result of this online bullying.

While the effects of cyberbullying are becoming more prominent, with anxiety, depression and suicide rates climbing for preteens and teenagers, 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 cyberbullies can be anonymous, making victims feel even more isolated, helpless or dehumanized.

In fact, among 1,320 students from Australia, those who were cyberbullied 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.

Signs of Depression in Kids

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, some of these signs include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Declining grades
  • Changes in eating habits or skipping meals
  • Sudden loss of friends or 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. 

What Parents Should Know About Cyberbullying & Depression  

If your child is struggling with depression, seek help by visiting a doctor or counselor. If your child is having suicidal thoughts or displaying suicidal behavior, seek immediate professional help.

  • Remove harmful objects or weapons from their reach
  • Do not leave them alone
  • Visit your doctor immediately
  • Call 9-1-1
  • Go to the emergency room

For more support, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK

Need more help with cyberbullying? Download our Cyberbullying Guidebook for Parents.

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, and

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