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Effects of Cyberbullying

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What happens to kids during childhood shapes who they become. Bullying is often written off as a rite of passage as “kids just being kids.” However, cyberbullying can have lasting negative physical, psychological, and emotional effects. Children who are involved in cyberbullying may:


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Abuse Drugs & Alcohol

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Skip School


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Receive Poor Grades


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Have Lower Self-Esteem

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Have more health problems



Research reveals that there are many negative consequences sustained by victims of cyberbullying.

These include:

  • Higher rates of depression and anxiety
  • Reduced feelings of self-worth
  • Difficulties sleeping and increased bed-wetting events
  • Higher number of physical issues such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Increased suicide attempts (a Yale study found that victims of bullying are thought to be “two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children”)
  • Increased instances of eating disorders (Another study also found that, for girls specifically, eating disorders are often more prevalent when they are involved in a bullying relationship.)
sad girl with phone and computer - cyberbullying causes


Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.



What causes one person to bully another online? According to Joseph Magliano, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy at Northern Illinois University, the answer to this question involves factors that are “multiple and complex.” 

A 2010 study published by the Archives of General Psychiatry also found that cyberbullies tend to be more hyperactive and have conduct-related issues. Interestingly, many cyberbullies also reported not feeling safe while at school.

However, based on research in the field, Magliano says that people who cyberbully often:

  • Have difficulty feeling empathy for others.
  • Use cyberbullying to feel more powerful than they think they are.
  • Bully online in an attempt to gain popularity.
  • Think that their peers are engaging in this behavior, so they do it too.
  • Have poorer parent-child relationships.
  • Are not monitored by a parental unit while online.


References & Sources
  1. Research published by the JOURNAL OF ADDICTION RESEARCH & THERAPY.
  2. Increased suicide attempts, YALE STUDY.
  3. Bullying and eating disorders in girls, JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT HEALTH.
  4. Why some kids bully others. JOSEPH MAGLIANO, PH.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy at Northern Illinois University.
  5. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2010 STUDY.

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Effects of Cyberbullying