Cyberbullying on Social Media Tied to Depression in Adolescents

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Adolescents who are cyberbullied are more likely to be depressed and female.
Adolescents who are cyberbullied are more likely to be depressed and female.

HealthDay News — A new review suggests that estimates of cyberbullying are all over the place, ranging as low as 5% and as high as 74%.

But some findings are consistent: Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed and to be female, and cyberbullying mostly arises from relationships.

The researchers looked at 36 studies, mostly from the United States. Of those, 17 reports examined how often cyberbullying occurred. The researchers found that a median of 23% of kids reported being bullied via social media, the reported online in JAMA Pediatrics. A median is not an average; it's the midpoint in a group of numbers.

The percentage is derived from studies that had a wide variety of definitions of when cyberbullying had to have occurred to count, said review author Michele Hamm, PhD, a research associate with the Alberta Research Center for Health Evidence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

In some cases, researchers counted whether kids had ever been bullied; in other cases, bullying only counted if it was repeated, she said.

"Prevention and management efforts are likely necessary at multiple levels, involving adolescents, parents, teachers and health care professionals," Hamm said.

Researchers launched the review to get a better understanding of cyberbullying, which they defined as bullying via social media and not in private conversations by text messages or Skype.

"We wanted to find out whether there was evidence that social media could be harmful to kids and if so, be able to inform future prevention strategies," Hamm said.

Reference

Hamm MP, et al. Prevalence and Effect of Cyberbullying on Children and Young People: A Scoping Review of Social Media Studies. JAMA Pediatr. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0944.

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