Cyberbullying and its impact on Child and Adolescence

Cyberbullying is associated with emotional stress, social anxiety, substance use, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts.

Cyberbullying is an unfortunate social-product of recent communication technologies, particularly social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, twitter and so on.

Cyberbullying may involve posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, personal or confidential information, or pejorative labels. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputation of the person being bullied or the victim as well as the persons who participate in or incite bullying behavior or the perpetrator.

Types of Cyberbullying

Since the internet is a wide world, there are several ways to use it for any purpose we want. There are websites, forums, and various platforms that can be explored for one’s purpose. Some most common type of cyberbullying are:-

  • Threating messages through WhatsApp and SMS.
  • Making fun of the victim through posting personal stuff on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Creating and using fake profiles to get attention, gather some information, and then humiliate the target person.
  • Creating a negative image of the bullied by posting such stuff.
  • Using fake images and text to humiliate the person.

Impact of Cyberbullying on Mental Health

Cyberbullying is present in today’s world and all ages of people, be it adults, children or adolescent, are being affected by it. It brings emotional stress and negative emotions such as anger, fear, and depression in all age groups.

Our mental health is being affected by cyberbullying. As how we think, feel and behave is poisoned with negativity rather than positivity, our mental health deteriorates. Person’s ability to enjoy life, attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience is diminished.

While, 24.5% of adolescents do not care about the incidents as explained in ‘the emotional impact of bullying and cyberbullying on victims: a European cross-national study’. Cyberbullying may have even more harmful outcomes to adolescents’ mental health, including substance abuse, increased suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

Cyberbullying has been associated with depressive symptomatology in several researches. Researchers reported that it may lead to relationship problems, hyperactivity-inattention problems, behavior problems, school-related problems, and risky behavior on the internet, such as posting personal information, using a web camera and online harassment. They even have psychosomatic problems (headache, abdominal pain and sleep problems), presented higher levels of perceived difficulties, emotional problems, peer and social difficulties, as well as not feeling safe at school and not feeling properly looked after by teachers.

It is obvious that any students would avoid to attend school due to fear that the entire student witnessed attacks on them. At home they may show atypical and even abnormal behavior. For example, parents of children who are cyberbullied often notice their children withdraw and disconnect from regular family routines.

Methods to Prevent Cyberbullying

As such, maintaining good mental health is as important as maintaining sound physical health to live a long and healthy life. One has to be educated about the bullying and cyber bullying. Parents and teachers can play vital role on monitoring, educating and explaining today’s youth and children about bullying openly.

  • Awareness on its impact has to be delivered from all form i.e. school, home and community in our country.
  • Observing and listening to child and adolescents about their behavior change and their issues before coming to a conclusion.
  • Open environment to talk about any issues that one has.
  • Zero tolerance policy about bullying and cyber bullying at home, school and community.
  • Ask for help and support with experts if needed.
  • Limit the screen time. Monitor the content that children and adolescent are exposed to. Always use healthy habits to address one’s mental health.

By: Srijana Acharya, Nurse/Psychosocial Counselor

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