Cyberbullying Linked to Depression in Teens

The median percentage of children and adolescents who reported being bullied online was 23% and there appears to be a consistent relationship between cyberbullying and reports of depression in a review of social media studies, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics called, "Relationship Seen Across Studies Between Cyberbullying, Depression."

Social media is a presence in the lives of young people, with reports indicating 95% of American teenagers use the Internet and that 81% of them use social media. But these online interactions can coincide with potential risks and safety concerns regarding social media, including cyberbullying.

Michele P. Hamm, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta, Canada, and coauthors reviewed 36 studies to examine the health-​related effects of cyberbullying through social media among children and adolescents. Most of the studies were conducted in the United States and included middle and high school students between the ages of 12 and 18 and the majority were female. Facebook was the most commonly used platform with 89% to 97.5% of social media users indicating they had an account.

The authors found 23% was the median percentage of children and adolescents who reported cyberbullying, although reports of its prevalence ranged from 4.8% to 73.5%. The most common reason for online bullying was relationship issues, with girls most often being the recipient of the bullying.

The review of studies also indicates that cyberbullying was consistently associated with an increased likelihood of depression. Some studies reported weak or inconsistent correlations between cyberbullying and anxiety, according to the results.

Common social media platforms for cyberbullying included blogs, Twitter, social networking sites and message boards. Name-​calling, spreading gossip and rumors, and circulating pictures were common forms of bullying. The most common strategies children and adolescents reported using to cope with cyberbullying were passive, such as blocking the sender, ignoring or avoiding messages, and protecting personal information. Children and adolescents also tended to believe that little could be done to prevent or reduce cyberbullying.

"Kids do not tell adults about bullying. Not teachers, not coaches, not parents," Robert Faris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, said. "This is largely because they feel adults will not help and can make things worse. So, one crucial lesson is that parents should really monitor what their kids are doing online and on social media, and also ask pressing questions about how things are going at school and with friends."

The authors note there were considerable variations in definitions, measures used and results cited across the 36 studies they included.

‰ÛÏThe evolution of social media has created an online world that has benefits and potential harms to children and adolescents. Cyberbullying has emerged as a primary concern in terms of safety, and, while publications remain inconclusive regarding its effects on mental health, there is some evidence to suggest that there are associations of harms with exposure to cyberbullying as well as cyberbullying behavior. This review provides important information characterizing the issue of cyberbullying that will help inform prevention and management strategies, including attributes of the recipients and perpetrators, reasons for and the nature of bullying behaviors, and how recipients currently react to and manage bullying behaviors,‰Û the study concludes.

Your advertisers can promote better awareness of cyberbullying to teens and their parents by advertising with you, and committing to awareness campaigns. Any retailer serving teens and their parents, or mental health providers, can work with you to develop some cause marketing opportunities. Use AudienceSCAN's data on Parents of Teenagers to better inform your clients. 14.4% of adults report having children aged 13–17 living at home. Reach them in malls and shopping centers: 45% of Parents of Teens have gone shopping in stores (not online) on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving). TV works too: 38.5% took action after seeing a commercial on TV (over-​the-​air, online, mobile or tablet) in the past month.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.