Fahy, Amanda E. et al. Longitudinal Associations Between Cyberbullying Involvement and Adolescent Mental Health.
Journal of Adolescent Health. published online ahead of print.
Cyberbullying differs from face-to-face bullying and may negatively influence adolescent mental health, but there is a lack of definitive research on this topic. This study examines longitudinal associations between cyberbullying involvement and adolescent mental health.
Participants were 2,480 teenagers taking part in the Olympic Regeneration in East London study. We collected information from participants when they were 12–13 years old and again 1 year later to examine links between involvement in cyberbullying and future symptoms of depression and social anxiety, and mental well-being.
At baseline, 14% reported being cybervictims, 8% reported being cyberbullies, and 20% reported being cyberbully-victims in the previous year. Compared to uninvolved adolescents, cybervictims and cyberbully-victims were significantly more likely to report symptoms of depression (cybervictims: odds ratio [OR] = 1.44, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.00, 2.06]; cyberbully-victims: OR = 1.54, 95% CI [1.13, 2.09]) and social anxiety (cybervictims: OR = 1.52, 95% CI [1.11, 2.07]; cyberbully-victims: OR = 1.44, 95% CI [1.10, 1.89]) but not below average well-being (cybervictims: relative risk ratio = 1.28, 95% CI [.86, 1.91]; cyberbully-victims: relative risk ratio = 1.38, 95% CI [.95, 1.99]) at 1 year follow-up, after adjustment for confounding factors including baseline mental health.
This study emphasizes the high prevalence of cyberbullying and the potential of cybervictimization as a risk factor for future depressive symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, and below average well-being among adolescents. Future research should identify protective factors and possible interventions to reduce adolescent cyberbullying.