Bullying has been around for many years and limited within schoolyards, hallways, and bathrooms. With the rapid growth of technology, bullying no longer stays within the schoolyards. It has now moved into homes. As teens have more access to the internet, phones, and social media, it makes it easier for them to become cyberbullies or victims of online bullying. The term “cyberbully” refers to someone using technology to harass, humiliate, and frighten another person. They will use text, email, chat rooms, and social media platforms to start rumors or make fun of a person because of their looks, personality, and history. This type of bullying has become a significant issue within the last couple of years. As adolescent victims of cyberbullying have been linked to suffering from mental health issues, such as isolation, social anxiety, and depression, which in some cases leads to death by suicide.
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Victims of cyberbullying can feel isolated and alone because of the anonymity of it. A research conducted by the Daily Telegraph in England showed “England’s youngsters are the most likely to say they have been left out by classmates at least once in the last month”. Teens who have been subjected to online bullying can feel “shot out” and rejected at school. This can be a traumatic experience since friendships are important at this age. “Friendship is an alliance characterized by granting exchange of goods and reciprocal trust”. Friends are supposed to help with social development and to feel connected in this sometimes scary world. When kids don’t have friends, it can lead into more bullying and eventually become disinterested in school. The reason why isolated teens can be bullied more is because they can be seen as “weak” or awkward. At the same time the isolated teen can become a bully to gain “friends” or become popular. Most of the time when someone is being cyber bullied, they know who the person behind it is, its people who they thought were their friends and they trusted, but in 10% to 27% of the cases the offender is unknown. This can occur when kids isolate themselves from the rest of the world and spend more time on the internet trying to find friends online or try to fit in with people they don’t know. Once cyberbullying occurs people will recommend for computers or phones to be shut off but for teens this can mean closing all means of communication with their world. They use technology to talk to friends, feel connected and express themselves and if this option of communication is removed, they can feel alone and cut off from their world. Feeling socially isolated at school negatively affects the mental health of adolescents because of the anxiety and stress bullying causes.
Social anxiety is affecting teens more each day as we have become more digitalized. Social anxiety can be defined as “a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others”. Social anxiety and cyberbullying negatively correlate since victims of bullying are constantly being picked on, it creates a sense of fear that something bad is always going to happen. When teens are exposed or humiliated online, they know “it reaches a large audience rapidly, contributing to a greater negative impact on the victim who may feel more embarrassed and ashamed”. As a result, adolescents can suffer from social anxiety and are then persecuted with self-consciousness about everyday social situations and worry that they will be ridiculed over and over again. According to a research study done by Coehlo and Romao “hypothesis two was confirmed given that the finding from the present study add to the wide consensus found in the literature that adolescent girls reported more social anxiety than boys”. This shows adolescent girls are more likely to be cyber victimized and therefore suffer from more mental health issues. Teens who suffer from social anxiety for being cyber bullied can later on develop into symptoms of depression making their mental health unstable.
Depression is a mental illness that doesn’t discriminate anybody, it can occur to anyone and at any time regardless of their age, color and race. Which is why is not uncommon for young people to feel sad or down sometimes, it starts to become a problem when it affects their day to day life. Adolescent depression starts to manifest usually after a significant and unfading event. Cyberbullying is one of the factors why depression among teens has been rising at an alarming rate.