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J Adolesc Health. 2016 Nov;59(5):502-509. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.006. Epub 2016 Aug 12.

Longitudinal Associations Between Cyberbullying Involvement and Adolescent Mental Health.

Author information

1
Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address: amanda.fahy@qmul.ac.uk.
2
Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom.
3
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

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.

METHODS:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescence; Cyberbullying; Depression; Mental health; Social anxiety; Well-being

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