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05-29 Why cyberbullying is an important issue

Posted in Depression

Why cyberbullying is an important issue

Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, and Twitter are all common social media platforms that help people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to stay connected. However, these social websites and other technological advancements, such as smartphones and chat rooms, have catapulted cyberbullying among teenagers into an epidemic. It is during this period in life where harassment of any kind can have the biggest impact on a child. Due to our modern day creature comforts, technology has allowed bullying to extend beyond the school grounds and live in the family livingroom.

Alarming statistics

According to statistics from i-SAFE, cyberbullying occurs around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and is more common between teenagers and young children. Nearly half of all children have been bullied once online and 1 in 4 have been bullied multiple times online. More than half of kids who have been bullied online have not told their parents or another adult that they were the victims of cyberbullying.

According to the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 surf the internet, and youth spend more time on the internet than any single other activity besides sleeping. Kids admit bullying each other online beginning as early as 8 years of age.

According to research, boys initiate mean online activity earlier than girls do. However, by middle school, girls are more likely to engage in cyberbullying than boys. Cyberbullying doesn’t just affect young children but college-aged persons as well.

Cyberbullying linked to depression

New research suggests that cyberbullying has been linked to a markedly increased risk for depression in college students. And cyberbullying does not discriminate among age or gender.

Cyberbullying can also lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide. The same research found that 265 female college students showed that those who were involved with cyberbullying in any way were almost three times more likely to be clinically depressed than those who were not involved in cyberbullying. Both bullies and their victims are more likely to suffer from depression than youth who are not involved in bullying. This connection can be long-lasting; people who are bullied as children are more likely to suffer from depression as an adult than children who were not involved in bullying.

Prevent and report cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can be prevented and reported. Parents, teachers and caregivers need to be aware of what their children or teens are doing online and take these steps to prevent and report the crime:

  • Install parental control software on online devices to prohibit children from going into chat rooms and on social media sites.
  • Explain to youth that they should not post any pictures or messages that can embarrass others or themselves; once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.
  • Encourage kids to tell an adult immediately if they, or someone they know, are being cyberbullied; it is important to explain that this behavior is inappropriate and against the law.
  • Keep evidence of cyberbullying by recording the dates, times and descriptions of instances; save and print screenshots, emails and text messages.
  • Use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers, law enforcement and the child’s school.

Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego specializes in treating adolescents struggling with mental health disorders, behavioral compulsions, substance abuse, or a combination of these issues in its dual diagnosis treatment program. For more information, call its 24-hour helpline at 866-615-7266.

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer

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