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Impact of Cyberbullying

Be a Friend, Not a Bully – Help Prevent the Effects of Bullying Now!

As the Nation’s Voice for Children, American SPCC is speaking up and standing up against Bullying & Cyberbullying. The following free educational resources are made possible through your support and contributions. Please consider MAKING A DONATION to keep this program going.

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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, bullying can have lasting physical, mental, and emotional effects.

Impact of Cyberbullying on The Victim?

Research reveals that there are many negative consequences sustained by victims of cyberbullying.1

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 study2 found that victims of bullying are thought to be “two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children”)

Another study also found that, for girls specifically, eating disorders are often more prevalent when they are involved in a bullying relationship.3


Effects of Cyberbullying

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.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems

Why Do People Cyberbully?

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.” 4

However, based on research in the field, Magliano says that people who cyberbully often:4

  • 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.

A 2010 study published by the Archives of General Psychiatry 5 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.


Teen Suicide & Depression

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Click for 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.