Cyberbullying: What’s Happening Online

Cyberbullying and Teen Depression: A Look Into Peer Pressure, Suicides

If there are two things in life that are absolutely true in 2018, it is that social media usage and the internet are ubiquitous, and that being a teen hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, rates of teen depression have skyrocketed when compared to earlier generations, and teen suicide rates are on the rise as well.

There are a number of studies that link social media use with teen depression, and blame the uptick in bullying and cyberbullying for causes of teen unhappiness. For parents, here’s a brief overview of the link between cyberbully, social media use, and teen depression, and what you can do if you’re the parent of a teen who’s online–

What Is Cyberbullying?

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time, and is characterized by the use of strength or superiority to intimidate someone, often in order to get something that the bully wants. However, in today’s world, bullying has taken it to a whole new level; not only is the cause of bullying often unclear–and appears to be done with the sole intention of causing pain and distress to the bullied individual–but it is also occurring in a new arena: online. Cyberbullying uses all types of electronic communications, ranging from sending online messages to status updates to photos to text messages to emails and more, to intimidate, threaten, or put down another person.

Much of cyberbullying that occurs is done on social media, with sites like Facebook acting as a popular medium.

Cyberbullying Is a Huge Problem

 Statistics show that cyberbullying is becoming a major problem. Indeed, an article in CNN News that cites JAMA Pediatrics reports that 23 percent of teens say they have been a target of cyberbullying – that’s nearly one-quarter of young people! Perhaps even more shocking, a whopping 15 percent admit to having bullied another person online.

These statistics are concerning, and not just because they raise the question about what is becoming of the young people in our society. Depression and social media victimization are closely linked, with the nearly 10 percent of the adolescent population in the United States having at least one major depressive episode during a one-year period, and about one in three teens suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Social Media, Depression, and Suicide

Because of the strong correlation between social media and depression, and depression and suicide, it is safe to say that cyberbullying may increase the risk of a teen taking their own life. Suicide statistics amongst teens are dreadfully high right now: in 2015, 36 percent of teens reported feeling “desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide,” and about five to eight percent of teens actually attempt suicide yearly.

What Can Parents Do?

For parents, social media use by a teen can be a delicate subject area – parents don’t want to be the “bad guy” that prohibits their child to use the internet, own a smartphone, etc., or the parent that spies and snoops, but parents also do have real cause for concern, and shouldn’t just stand by the sidelines, either.

As a parent, one thing that you can do is limit the amount of time your child spends online (without forbidding it entirely). Statistics show that teens who use smartphones for five or more hours daily are 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions.

Another thing that you can do is to act as a resource for your teen should cyberbullying or online peer pressure occur. Let your teen know that you’re open and available to talk if they’re having any feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.

Finally, don’t remain inactive. If your child is suffering from depression, get professional help from a mental health therapist, counselor, or doctor. If your child is being bullied online, report the bullying to the offender’s parents, the school, and the police if necessary.

Our Law Firm Is Here for You

At the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, we know how serious the outcomes of cyberbullying can be. If your child has been bullied and suffered harm, you may have the right to pursue a civil case for damages. To learn more, contact our law offices by phone or online today.