Researchers find cyberbullying leads to depression

September 23, 2010

Children who are victims of cyberbullying are at a higher risk for depression than children who bully, finds a new report from the National Institutes of Health. These findings are in contrast to traditional forms of bullying, where the depression risk is increased for both the bully and his or her victim.

Cyberbullying involves aggressive behaviors communicated through a computer or cell phone, whereas traditional bullying involves physical aggression, verbal taunts or social exclusion.

Researchers focused on children in grades 6 through 10 and found those who engaged in forms of bullying that involved physical violence -- whether they were perpetrators or victims -- were at an equally increased risk of depression. All children engaged in verbal bullying also were at an increased risk of depression, although the risk was higher among bullying victims.

However, in cases of cyberbullying, victims reported significantly higher levels of depression than bullies. Cyberbully victims also reported higher rates of depression than victims of traditional bullying.

According to NIH, bullying interferes with scholastic achievement, development of social skills and feelings of well-being.