Cyberbullying involvement and mental health problems among late adolescents

Abstract

Exposure to cyberbullying is associated with psychological distress like depressive symptoms, self-injurious behavior and suicidal thoughts. Cyberbullying is thus a major challenge for public health. This study examines the prevalence of cyberbullying and explores the psychological characteristics of adolescents who have experienced cyberbullying. The sample consisted of 4531 Norwegian graduates in high school, age 18–21. The following psychological characteristics were investigated: self-harm, suicide attempts, antisocial behavior, anxiety and depression. Three mutually exclusive groups of cyberbullying were compared: 1) cybervictims, 2) cyberbullies and 3) cyberbully-victims. Participants involved in cyberbullying were further compared to those not involved. The prevalence of cyberbullying in this study was 5 %. There were no significant differences between cyberbullies, cybervictims and cyberbully-victims on any of the psychological variables, except for fewer reported suicide attempts in cyberbullies compared to cybervictims and cyberbully-victims. Late adolescents involved in cyberbullying did however report significantly more anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide attempts and antisocial behavior, compared to those not involved. Thus, late adolescents involved in cyberbullying struggle more with psychological problems than non-involved adolescents. Increased knowledge about the characteristics of cyberbullies, cybervictims and cyberbully-victims could contribute to better detection and earlier identification of those involved in cyberbullying. This knowledge can further help understand more of the potential psychological vulnerability factors and consequences of cyberbullying, which could be used to optimize preventive measures and treatment.

Bibliographic citation

Skilbred-Fjeld, S., Reme, S. E., & Mossige, S. (2020). Cyberbullying involvement and mental health problems among late adolescents. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 14(1), Article 5. doi:https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2020-1-5

Keywords

Cyberbully; cybervictim; depression; anxiety; suicide; antisocial behavior

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https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2020-1-5