As researchers have found that cyberbullying amplifies symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people, health experts also stressed that in some cases it can be far more horrifying than physical bullying. Also Read - Vitamin D Deficiency May Cause Depression And Bone Loss
According to the experts, cyberbullying is when a child, teen or youngster becomes a target of actions by others — using computers, cellphones or other devices — that are intended to embarrass, humiliate, torment, threaten or harass. Also Read - Depression: Popular Myths And Misconceptions Surrounding This Mental Disorder
It can start as early as age eight or nine, but the majority of cyberbullying cases take place in the teenage years, up to age 17.
The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, addressed both the prevalence and factors related to cyberbullying in adolescent inpatients.
“Even against a backdrop of emotional challenges in the kids we studied, we noted cyberbullying had an adverse impact. It’s real and should be assessed,” said study co-author Philip D. Harvey, Professor at the University of Miami in the US.
According to the researchers, children with a history of being abused were found to be more likely to be cyberbullied.
The study of 50 adolescent psychiatric inpatients aged 13 to 17 examined the prevalence of cyberbullying and related it to social media usage, current levels of symptoms and histories of adverse early life experience.
Conducted from September 2016 to April 2017, the research team asked participants to complete two childhood trauma questionnaires and a cyberbullying questionnaire.
Twenty per cent of participants reported that they had been cyberbullied within the last two months before their admission.
According to the researchers, half of the participants were bullied by text messages and the other half on Facebook.
Transmitted pictures or videos, Instagram, instant messages and chat rooms were other cyberbullying vehicles, the study said.
Those who were bullied had significantly higher severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anger, and fantasy dissociation than those who were not bullied.
According to findings, participants who reported being cyberbullied also reported significantly higher levels of lifetime emotional abuse on the study’s Childhood Trauma Questionnaire than those who were not bullied.
The internet not only covers a huge part of our lives nowadays, rather it dominates the lives of today’s generation, according to the expert.
“From setting beauty standards and norms to trolling every act has a significant effect on the psyche of internet users, especially on youth and children, it leads to stress and depression as well,” Mrinmay Kumar Das, Senior Consultant, Department of Behavioural Sciences, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.
To reduce the risk of falling in this trap, Das suggested: “Keep an eye on the people you interact with online, keep your personal information or private details safe. Also, keep in mind that your children who apparently act normal may also be dealing with cyberbullying.”
“Hence keep communicating with your children, rather than scolding them and forcefully limiting their internet use, support them to come out of this depressing phase, encourage them to indulge in other activities like games, music, etc,” Das added.