Cyberbullying and mental health: How is it tied to depression?

Among students age 12 to 18 who reported being bulled during the school year, 15% said they were bullied online or by text.

Social scientists said they are trying to learn even more about the relationship between the encounters and mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.

USC developmental psychologists surveyed 559 students in grades six through 12 about their experiences with online bullying. They wanted to know if cybervictimization leads to poor mental health, or if people experiencing depression and anxiety are more likely to be bullied.

The answer is both.

“If you are depressed, it could lead to more cybervictimization, and also cybervictimization leads to depression,” Dr. Brendesha Tynes, a developmental psychologist, said.

Researchers surveyed the students at three different times. Students who reported high levels of online bullying at time point one also reported high levels of depressive symptoms at time point three.

Students who said they had high levels at time point one also reported high levels of online bullying at time point two.

Those with high levels of depression at time two also reported more cybervictimization at time point three.

Experts say parents can support their child’s mental health by pointing out their strengths with others.

You can say things like, “You’re really good at thinking about how others might feel,” or “You’re really standing up for people.”

But don’t be tempted to ban phone or computer use.

It’s better to have them manage the experience than take away the device.