Studies estimate 1 in 4 teens have been impacted by cyber bullying in the past 12 months. This bullying, which takes place online, is a form of teenage violence that can leave a lasting negative impact on adolescents. Learning to recognize the signs of cyber bullying, and the technology that is used to transfer the negative comments or threats can help parents, other adults, and peers to actively fight off such attacks.
Types of Cyber Bullying
Adolescent cyber bullying can take many forms. The most common, include generally negative messages posted either on social media or directly to a person’s messaging via email or text. Additional forms of online bullying include:
- Spreading rumors online.
- Posting negative messages or threats on social networks.
- Sending threatening text messages.
- Sharing pictures of private moments or unflattering moments to embarrass an individual.
- Taking sexual images and sharing them publicly with others for the purpose of shaming the individual.
Impacts of Cyber Bullying on Adolescent Health
Being bullied is never fun, but in a world where messages travel more quickly and to more people, a cyber-attack can devastate the self-esteem of a young person. An otherwise healthy teen may struggle deeply when cyber bullying comes into play. Sadly, it’s not only the victims of cyber bullying that are at risk of adverse health effects. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “perpetrators of cyberbullying are more likely to report increased substance use, aggression, and delinquent behaviors.”
Young adults targeted by cyber bullies are at risk of the following adverse psychological health effects:
- Suicidal behaviors
- Poor or potentially harmful social relationships
- Feelings of powerlessness, sadness or being hopeless
Reducing the Impact of Cyber Bullying
Parents and teens can do their part to reduce the impact that cyber bullying has on others. Awareness is the key factor in combatting this problem. Parents and adults should speak with teens about the impact of cyber bullying and make them aware that treating others poorly both in person, and online, can have serious consequences. Additionally, teens should be encouraged to alert an adult to any case of cyber bullying that they are aware of. Victims of cyber bullying are encouraged to speak with a psychiatrist or therapist to help them overcome the depression and underlying anxiety that occurs as a result of the mistreatment.