The advancement of technology has helped society as it has provided opportunities for better communication and unlimited access to information. However, although electronic technology has various benefits, there are also consequences with using it (Wright 113). With approximately 71 percent of American children using social media, many adolescents are unaware of a world without technology (Wright 113).
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Because the adolescent population has fully embraced the digital world compared to past generations, they are more susceptible to cyberbullying (Wright 114). In the past decade, cyberbullying has become more prevalent in society due to the skyrocketing popularity of social media. According to Bauman, bullying is defined as “a type of aggressive (purposefully harmful) behavior that is intentional, repeated, and based on a power imbalance between the aggressor and the target” (249). Similar to confrontational bullying, cyberbullying is still a form of bullying. However, rather than the bullying occurring face-to-face, cyberbullying is executed through digital platforms such as text messages or social media sites (Van Hee et al. 1). Furthermore, unlike face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can occur at any time of the day.
There are various forms of cyberbullying. For example, flaming, harassment, cyberstalking, denigration, masquerading, outing, and exclusion are all classified as forms of cyberbullying (Cowie 167). Some known contexts in which cyberbullying might occur are when a peer envies another peer’s success, prejudice intolerance over ethnicity, gender, and disability, and after a romantic relationship or friendship ends (Cowie 167). As cyberbullying continues to be a growing concern for young people, recent studies have shown that cyberbullying can lead to depression and anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and actions, social withdrawal, and decreased academic achievement and attendance among adolescents. Therefore, cyberbullying does negatively impact the mental and physical health of adolescents.
To begin with, children who are bullied over the internet are more likely to become depressed and develop anxiety (Agarwal et al. 60; Wright 114). The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a type of mental illness that affects how an individual thinks, feels, and acts (Parekh). Whereas, the National Institute of Mental Health states that social anxiety disorder is also a mental illness that causes an individual to have feelings of uneasiness and worry towards events or activities, especially when the individual is unsure of the outcome. Additionally, in 2014, it was estimated that 2.8 million American children had a depressive episode (“Anxiety and Depression in Children”). Of this 2.8 million children, 43 percent of them have been cyberbullied while 25.1 percent have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (“Facts & Statistics”; “11 Facts About Cyberbullying”). Unfortunately, as studies have shown, as more children are cyberbullied, the percentage of children who have anxiety and depression will also increase. In turn, this further validates that depression and anxiety in adolescents can be direct results of cyberbullying.