Cyberbullying & Teen Depression
This is the second part of a three part series on cyberbullying. In the first week we looked at Understanding Cyberbullying. This week we will focus on Cyberbullying and Teen Depression. I don’t suggest that all teen depression comes from Cyberbullying but I do believe that there is an increase in Teen Depression as a result of Cyberbullying.
I wouldn’t be able to recognise the signs of Cyberbullying in my children. While this is not something I have to think about for quite some time, I am very aware of it. Look at any social media platform and you will find signs of cyberbullying. In recent months, I have heard horror stories of teenagers taking their own lives as a result of cyberbullying.
It is not only something we have to be mindful of but something we need to talk about and take action to prevent.
I encourage you the previous posts on Understanding Cyberbullying, if you have any doubt about what cyberbullying is or whether it could be present in your family or friendship circle. .
This post, adapted from the original Kidguard article written by award winning author Carrie Goldman hopefully will shed some light on Cyberbullying and what we can do to respond to Cyberbullying.
I’ve put links to the original article at the end of the post and more information about Carrie Goldman and her written work on Bullying. If you need more information please have a look at those links!
Cyberbullying & Teen Depression
Cyberbullying Risk Factors
Not every child who goes online will be cyberbullied. There are plenty of children and teens who regularly use social media and the Internet without incident.
Some children have risk factors that may turn them into unsuspecting targets. These risk factors include: children and teens who are overweight or underweight, viewed as weak, already have low self-esteem, aren’t viewed as “popular” at school or have difficulty get along with others/making friends.
Along with those risk factors, girls are more likely to be cyberbullied than boys. The NCVS data shows that while 8.6% of female students report being cyberbullied, only 5.2% of male students report it.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Depression is one of the major effects of cyberbullying. Teens who are regularly cyberbullied may feel down on themselves, start believing what other people are saying about them online, start skipping school (either out of depression or as a way to avoid the bullies in real life), develop low self-esteem or start using drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate.
The correlation between cyberbullying and depression was found in 10 different studies after a review of the effects of cyberbullying on teens by JAMA Pediatrics. At the most extreme end of cyberbullying-related depression is suicide.
In 2006, 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself after a boy, classmates and so-called friends began writing cruel messages to the teen on MySpace.
After her death, Megan’s parents found repeated messages on their daughter’s MySpace account from a 16-year-old boy that read, “The world would be a better place without you.”
While this case is shocking, it’s not the only one. Suicide is a depression-related result of cyberbullying that no parent should ever have to experience.
FOMO – it’s not a joke
It’s not just Cyberbullying that affects teens. There is also emotional consequences behind being exposed to friends’ photos online.
“And even if no one is saying anything bad about me, I feel stressed out when I see pictures on Instagram of people hanging out, and I’m not there,” explained Ellen, an eighth grader at a Chicagoland school.
This phenomenon is called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, and it affects both kids and adults who watch other people post about their social interactions online. Even the kids and adults who have active, healthy social lives can feel paranoid about not being included in online conversations.
FOMO is a separate issue from the victimization of cyberbullying, but both create anxiety and stress. These feelings can ramp up dramatically and include panic attacks and depression when you are being directly attacked online. First, take a moment to ascertain that you are actually being bullied instead of suffering from FOMO.
Talk to your kids
This is why it’s so important to know what your child’s doing online. The best way to know what your teen is doing online is to ask them.
If you sense that something is wrong, just talk to your child. “Digitally grounding” them or taking away their internet privileges will not solve anything.
Let them know that you’re there for them.
Listen to them without judgement.
Click HERE for a link to international life line numbers and websites.
See more articles: Parent’s online safety guide
About KidGuard Education
KidGuard Education strives to help parents protect children online. Some of our initiatives include annual scholarships and non-profit grants to raise awareness and support children around the world. We also actively conduct research and publish guides to help parents better understand the digital atmosphere and its potential dangers.