The dangers of cyberbullying

Studies show: children/tweens/teens that were exposed to cyberbullying felt: When these negative emotions aren’t dealt with properly, victims may resort to the following behaviors:
  • Hurt feelings
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or other more serious mental health problems
  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Low self esteem
  • Inability to trust in others
  • Withdrawal, seclusion, avoidance of social relationships
  • Poor academic performance
  • Bullying others – to feel in control
  • In extreme cases – Suicide. and are two youngsters that committed suicide, and their suicide has been connected to cyberbullying. Other similar cases have been documented.

According to a recent of 1,247 14-to-24 year olds, 50% have experienced some form of digital abuse, including spreading lies, violation of trust, and digital disrespect. Another astounding finding of that survey is that 76% say digital abuse is a serious problem for people their age.

So cyberbullying is not some insignificant problem experienced by few. Cyberbullying is widespread, your children are aware of it, they understand how it happens and yet they are not aware of or concerned with the consequences of such actions. Here are some more mind boggling findings from that same survey:
  • Just about half (51%) of young people say they have thought about the idea that things they post online could come back to hurt them later
  • Just 1 in 4 have given some thought to the idea that things they post online could get them In trouble with the police and only 28% have considered that they could get in trouble at school for those things.

How about you? Do you understand the dangers of cyberbullying?

It is widely known that face-to-face bullying can result in long-term psychological harm to victims, including low self-esteem, depression, anger, school failure and avoidance and in some cases, school violence or suicide.

In fact, in a study of over 3,000 students, one researcher found that 38% of bully victims felt vengeful, 37% were angry, and 24% felt helpless. According to a 2001 fact sheet on juvenile bullying produced by the the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and delinquency Prevention, victims of schoolyard bullying fear going to school and experience loneliness, humiliation, and insecurity. Moreover, they tend to struggle with poor relationships and have difficulty making emotional and social adjustments.

Cyberbullying is even more harmful to young people than face-to-face bullying for a number of reasons:
  • Permanence: The insults, comments or images can be preserved by the person who was bullied or by others so that the victim may read or view them over and over again and the harm is re-inflicted with each reading or viewing.
  • Audience size: The size of the audience that is able to view or access the damaging material increases the victim’s humiliation.
  • Familiarity: Many young people are friends with or know their cyber bully either through school or other personal connections, increasing the potential for embarrassment and humiliation.
  • Social Networking: Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow cyber bullies to engage in campaigns against a particular person which may involve many others.
  • Speed: The speed at which harmful messages can reach large audiences also plays a major part in making cyberbullying so damaging to the targets.

As you see, the emotional effects that cyberbullying victims suffer can be devastating!

To learn how to deal with cyberbullying click here.

Click here if you’re concerned about the dangers of cyberbullying and want to learn what you can do to prevent it.


Johnson, J. M. (2009, March). The impact of cyberbullying: A new type of relational aggression. Paper based on a program presented at the American Counseling Association Annual Conference and Exposition, Charlotte, NC.

Tags: cyberbullying, bullying, dangers, psychological damage

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