Cyberbullying May Cause Significant Psychological Harm

Going to college is stressful enough on its own. Add a dose of cyberbullying to the mix and you’ve got a veritable recipe for depression. According to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, cyberbullying is linked to a six-fold rise in depression rates in female college students.

For their study, researchers surveyed 265 female college students, from four different colleges. Each student was asked to fill out online surveys on the subject of cyberbullying, as well as their role in various cyberbullying behaviors. The students’ depression levels and alcohol consumption were also assessed.

On their results, the study authors wrote, “participants with any involvement in cyberbullying had increased odds of depression. Those involved in cyberbullying as bullies had increased odds of both depression and problem alcohol use.”

Specifically, the researchers found that one in four of the female college students surveyed had experienced cyberbullying during their college years in some way. The female students who reported participating in cyberbullying as the bully had a higher chance than other female students of also reporting excessive alcohol use.

The cyberbullying behavior most strongly linked to triggering depression in the victim was the experience of unwelcome sexual advances either through text messages or online.

Fotolia_62903211_Subscription_Monthly_MBullying in any form is a sickness, and in an online environment, it can be hard to control because comments are so often anonymous. Because of this,and because of the rise in cyberbullying behaviors, it is becoming more and more necessary to find solutions to stop these behaviors before they cause harm.

If you are being bullied, or cyberbullied, in any way, it is important to speak up. Report the situation to the appropriate site administrators – you may want to save screen captures and/or messages to document the offences. It may seem frustrating or pointless to say anything, especially if your abuser is anonymous, but making your voice heard sends a message that the behavior is not appropriate, and inspires others to come together to make a difference.

That said, we could all use a little less time on social media, don’t you think? There is enough real life adversity to worry about without stress cropping up in the online world too. If you find that logging on to social media makes you stressed more than it makes you smile, it’s most definitely time to unplug.

-The Alternative Daily


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