The Psychological Effects of Cyberbullying: Signs and Recovery


The rapid growth of technology reflects the growing scope of cyberbullying. One can experience psychological effects such as depression, low self-esteem and anxiety.

According to a 2020 study, 15% to 35% of young people have experienced cyberbullying at some point. Research also suggests that the effects of cyberbullying may affect adults.

A large 2021 study indicates that mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and substance use, may predict a higher likelihood of cyberbullying for adults, especially men.

But more research is needed to support these findings.

Cyberbullying can consist of spreading rumors or lies about someone or sharing private information that can be embarrassing or embarrassing. It can occur in areas such as:

  • text messages
  • posting photos or videos to internet sites
  • social media
  • gaming networks
  • chat rooms and online forums
  • other digital spaces

Cyberbullying is when someone intentionally tries to harm another person with increasing aggression by uttering mean and hurtful things through electronic devices.

Such actions can quickly snowball on the internet and “go viral”, adding even more to the psychological stress felt by the person being the target of the bullying.

2020 research indicates that people targeted by cyberbullying may be adversely affected physically and mentally. But many people who experience cyberbullying may remain silent out of shame, fear, or shame.

Cyberbullying in adults and children can lead to or increase the likelihood of:

Today’s youth is particularly vulnerable. Many teens, even younger children, spend endless hours browsing the internet using their phones, computers, or other digital devices.

A Swedish study 2019 indicates that youth involved in cyberbullying, either as a target or perpetrator, had a higher risk of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. They also had lower general well-being.

A child who is bullied in a playground can find a refuge at home where he feels the protection of parents and relatives.

It’s different in cyberspace because bullying can live on, become persistent and even permanent.

Because it happens online, it can go undetected by responsible adults who might otherwise step in and help, notes the government website

While some children show no signs of cyberbullying, experts advise parents to watch for significant shifts in their child’s behavior or habits.

For example, checking social media more often than usual can indicate that something is wrong.

Consider keeping the lines of communication open by asking your child what they know about cyberbullying and if they have ever been involved in it.

Changes in a child that may indicate cyberbullying include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • nightmares
  • skip class
  • feeling helpless
  • loss of self-esteem
  • stomach ache
  • headache

Adults may also notice emotional symptoms, such as:

  • anxiety
  • embarrassment
  • frustration
  • their child can’t talk about their feelings

The younger a child is, the more likely they will vaguely mention physical health problems rather than articulate an emotion.

Some children may become aggressive because they have no outlet for these new and uncomfortable emotions.

Recognizing deviant aggressive behavior can indicate potential cyberbullying issues.

Parents can help children avoid or prevent cyberbullying by talking to them about how to make sure they don’t post photos or private information online. Especially content they wouldn’t share with their parents.

Kids can prevent cyberbullying by adopting these strategies from

  • Report cyberbullying to your parents or another responsible adult
  • only accept an online friend or network requests from someone you know
  • do not consider participating in ‘sexting’ by sending texts or photos with sexual content

If the consequences of cyberbullying affect you, consider the following coping methods:

  • Do not respond directly to cyberbullying or retaliate, as that may be the response the bully is looking for.
  • Report cyberbullying to parents, teachers or authorities if necessary.
  • Block cyberbullying or anyone acting questionably from your online accounts.
  • Disconnect from social media. Taking a break can improve your mental perspective and relieve anxiety.

Research has shown that cyberbullying can negatively impact a person’s mental health. Cyberbullying can lead to anxiety, social isolation and additional psychological stress that can be exacerbated with repeated abuse.

Consider talking to your kids about the risks of cyberbullying. As well as recognizing and reporting it and how to prevent it from happening again.

Social media is a space where young people gather with their friends for fun and entertainment.

Helping your kids deal with more difficult aspects of being online, such as cyberbullying, can teach resilience. Your child may also feel more comfortable socializing with peers in the real world and the digital world.

If you’re looking for support, check out Psych Central’s guide to a list of mental health resources.