The participants were asked about feelings of depression, irritability, grouchiness and ability to concentrate and were also asked if they had been hit, called names, shunned or sent negative message via the internet or through their mobile phone and they were also asked if they had done any of these things to someone else.
The team found that cyber victims were more likely to feel isolation or helplessness at the time of the attack which may be related to the fact they may not be able to see or identify their bully.
Bullies who go down the physical and verbal route are more often than not depressed themselves, but researchers found that cyber bully victims reported significantly higher levels of depression than frequent bullies.
Only last year the same team of researchers revealed alarming figures related to bullying, with 20 per cent of all U.S adolescents in schools having been bullied physically at least once in the last two months. In addition to this 51 per cent were bullied socially by being excluded and 13.6 per cent were bullied electronically.
Parents and teachers must realise that cyber bullying is just as harmful and distressing to children and teenagers as physical bullying and in many cases can go unnoticed for a longer period of time. This is a very difficult situation for parents and schools as text messages and internet usage is very difficult to monitor without making your child feeling like you are invading their privacy.
If you’re child has reached an age where they are showing more of an interest in technology and they spend a lot of time submerged in texting or on the computer then it is really worth taking extra notice of their behaviour. If there are any signs of withdrawal, resistance to socialising with friends and you generally feel as though something is not right then you’ve probably hit the nail on the head.
Try and encourage them to open up to you and reassure them that cyber bullying is just as serious an issue as physical and should be tackled before it grows and other symptoms such as depression begin to develop. If the situation has already reached a stage where depression and anxiety are setting in then encouraging a visit to a counsellor where your child will be able to talk and vent to a professional in complete confidence is a great idea. Though we all like to think our children will come to us, it is always good to leave the door open to other options.