Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression

Posted on June 25, 2015

In 2013, a spate of suicides was linked to the social network, where users can ask each other questions anonymously. The deaths of teens who had been subject to abuse on the site prompted (which was acquired by in 2014) to launch new safety efforts. Twitter, likewise, announced plans in April to filter out abusive tweets and suspend bullying users.

Social media use is hugely common among teenagers, said Michele Hamm, a researcher in pediatrics at the University of Alberta, but the health effects of cyberbullying on social media sites is largely unknown. Regular, face-to-face bullying during the teen years may double the risk of depression in adulthood, and bullying's effects can be as bad or worse than child abuse, studies show.

In the new review, Hamm and her colleagues combed through studies on cyberbullying and social media, finding 36 that investigated the effects of cyberbullying on health in teens ages 12 to 18. Although the studies examined different health outcomes and sometimes defined cyberbullying differently, one finding stood out.

"There were consistent associations between exposure to cyberbullying and increased likelihood of depression," Hamm told Live Science.

The studies covered a variety of social sites, but Facebook was the most common—between 89 percent and 97.5 percent of the teens who used social media had a Facebook account. Seventeen of the 36 studies analyzed looked at how common cyberbullying was, and the researchers found that a median of 23 percent of teens reporting being targeted. About 15 percent reported bullying someone online themselves.

Despite the well-publicized suicide cases linked to cyberbullying in news reports, Hamm and her colleagues did not find consistent links between being bullied and self-harm across the studies. Nor did they see a consistent link between cyberbullying and anxiety. Some studies found evidence for these links, and others did not.

However, Hamm cautioned, the findings don't mean these links don't exist. The 36 studies used a variety of definitions and health outcomes, and not enough work has been done to confirm or rule out connections between cyberbullying and anxiety or self-harm.

To read the full article, click on the link below.


Source material from Scientific American

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