Unit 2: Effects of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying, along with other forms of bullying, can result in negative psychological and physical effects. Anxiety, fear, depression, and low self-esteem are common problems that individuals may experience when they become targets of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying primarily affects children and young people, as aggressors often attempt to belittle or tear down someone using the internet, often in front of a large audience. This type of cyberbullying can have a profoundly negative impact on the victim.
One study revealed that pictures and posts were more harmful than harassing messages or phone calls. Prolonged cyberbullying can lead the victim to lose interest in hobbies, spend less time with friends or family, and, in some cases, develop depression or even suicidal thoughts.
- Depression: the most frequently reported consequence of cyberbullying, along with other stress-related conditions. Research consistently supports the idea that increasing levels of cyberbullying are linked to higher levels of depression. Studies indicate that 93% of cyberbullying victims report feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness.
- Low Self-esteem: another significant impact of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying often targets individuals’ vulnerabilities, which are often visual aspects like physical appearance or unique features. Victims of cyberbullying may start to experience intense personal dissatisfaction with their self-image and self-worth. Young people, in particular, have a strong psychological need for acceptance by their peer groups, and cyberbullying can significantly undermine their self-esteem.
Using Drugs or Alcohol, Neglecting School, or Carrying a Weapon
Victims of online harassment are more frequently inclined to turn to addictive substances to cope with the anxiety caused by cyberbullying and to fit in with new groups. They may resort to such substances to alleviate the emotional distress inflicted by cyberbullying. Additionally, absenteeism from school is a negative consequence of cyberbullying. For example, when the victim is subjected to mockery by peers due to an image shared by the aggressor on social networks, attending school becomes an unacceptable idea. Even more concerning is that victims of cyberbullying are more likely to carry a weapon, either for self-protection if the cyberbully escalates into a physical bully or with the intent of seeking revenge against the aggressor who initiated the bullying.
- Gastro-intestinal problems: such as nausea, abdominal pain, or stomach ulcers, can result from the stress of bullying. Victims may also grapple with recurring nausea or vomiting.
- Eating Disorders: cyberbullying can lead to changes in eating habits, such as skipping meals or binge-eating. In particular, comments about body shape or type can trigger full-blown eating disorders.
- Sleep Disorders: being a victim of cyberbullying is distressing and often preoccupies the thoughts of the victim. Consequently, experiencing cyberbullying can disrupt a person’s sleep patterns, leading to problems such as insomnia or nightmares.