The Link Between Cyber Bullying And Depression
As bullying has moved away from the school playground and on to Facebook, WhatsApp, text messaging and plenty of other social networks too, countless studies are showing that the link between depression and cyber bullying is undeniable, and has a particularly negative effect on teenage girls.
Unfortunately, nowadays kids don’t just exist in the “real” world, but in an online world too, and the online world offers a lot less protection than the real one. In today’s digital age cyberbullying is on the rise, not just in America and Europe, but on South African shores too. Most parents will be aware that bullying is linked to a higher rate of depression in children and teens, but it appears that cyberbullying may present an even higher risk than “traditional” schoolyard bullying.
One unique facet of cyber bullying is that the victims have no escape or respite from their tormentors. Before social networking, children who were bullied at school could feel safe at home and have some form of shelter from the bullies in the evening and over weekends. With constant access to social networking, this is no longer possible.
Children also tend to fear telling their parents about cyberbullying. Because the only way to get away from cyber bullying is to stop using social networks and smartphones, many teens fear that telling their parents will lead to having their phones taken away or internet access removed, or result in their parents prying into their personal lives on social media.
Another reason that cyberbullying may cause depression and feelings of anxiety is that sometimes, the bully doesn’t identify themselves. With traditional bullying, encounters are face to face. With online bullying, bullies can create multiple social profiles on various platforms and can even use pseudonyms so that the victim doesn’t know who is harassing them. This can lead to victims feeling isolated and helpless due to the “silent” nature of the bullying.
The most important thing is to take cyberbullying just as seriously as real-world bullying, even if your initial reaction is to brush it off as harmless.