The Impact of Cyberbullying on Young Adults' Wellbeing

ruqiya-anwar  Ph.D. scholar, researcher, and socio-political analyst.

   WWS contributor 


Cyberbullying has been linked to significant detrimental mental and psychosocial outcomes in young adults, making it a critical public health problem.

The Impact of Cyberbullying on Young Adults' Wellbeing

Recent technological advancements have resulted in the gradual growth of human relationships. Easy access to social media and online communities means a close internet connection. However, while there are undoubtedly advantages to such technical improvements for humans, there has also been a lot of focus on the drawbacks of online activity.

This shift in human connections occurred swiftly and mostly impacted younger generations. One of the well-known hazards of this technological growth is cyberbullying, which consists of voluntary and repeated actions against one or more persons using computers and electronic gadgets.


Bullying and Cyberbullying Menace


Bullying and cyberbullying have been linked to significant detrimental mental and psychosocial outcomes in young adults, making it a critical public health problem. 

Bullying may take many forms, including physical, emotional, relational, and even internet bullying, often known as cyberbullying. 

Cyberbullying has arisen as a distinctive kind of bullying, distinguished by characteristics like publicity, the permeability of online communications and photographs, anonymity of offenders, and boundless bounds. As a result, cyberbullying probably has different and more significant implications than traditional bullying.

Notably, cyberbullying is getting increasingly common among young people. It comprises any action executed by people or groups using electronic or digital means to regularly send hostile or aggressive messages with the intent of causing harm or discomfort to others (Tahir & Gul, 2017).

Moreover, internet-enabled electronic gadgets play an important role in the lives of many individuals, particularly young people, ranging from using computers and cellphones for schoolwork and gaming to interacting with friends on social media. 


Internet-Enabled Gadgets Play a Role in Cyberbullying



Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and Android in 2008, the technological functionality of screen-based devices has gotten more mobile and interactive, as has their pervasiveness and use, contributing to an increase in electronic device ownership among young adults.

Despite the benefits and opportunities provided by internet-enabled mobile technology, there have been worries about an increase in destructive online behaviours, including purposeful malice and harassment of young adults, such as cyberbullying. 

Social media platforms are extremely popular with young people, and cyberbullying is particularly prevalent on social media. Furthermore, more social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have surpassed Facebook in popularity among youngsters. 


Advocacy Against Cyberbullying


Self-harm and suicides connected to cyberbullying have received national media attention, raising their political stature. 

In response to grave concerns expressed by educators, health care professionals, parents, and children about online violence and internet safety, the UK government published the Digital Charter in 2018 to establish new norms for the internet world and initiated an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people's psychological health and well-being.

Additionally, this advocated for all social media businesses to have a duty of care in the form of a legislated code of conduct and open reporting. New regulatory measures are expected to guarantee that internet platforms remove dangerous information and prioritize user protection, particularly for children, young people, and vulnerable adults.

Cyberbullying differs from conventional bullying in that it entails a more extreme invasion of personal space, exacerbated by the perpetrator's possible anonymity and the ability to harass regardless of the time of day or the victim's location. It intrudes into previously considered safe and intimate settings, such as the private environment of the house.

Most importantly, cyberbullying causes young individuals to acquire psychopathological symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, and social phobia, which can lead to extreme behaviour such as suicide. 

In addition, cyber victims' families are affected by the pressure, sense of isolation, and helplessness they feel. Cyberbullying is perpetrated through digital technologies, is frequently anonymous, and seeks to ruin and mentally humiliate the victim.

A cyberbully may spread photographs or send unpleasant comments or e-mails to a person or group of individuals to deconstruct the victims' sense of security, humiliating and isolating them. 

The perpetrator of online bullying has a lesser view of responsibility for the pain created by one's actions, underestimating the gravity of the repercussions for the victim, who feels powerless to defend against online harassment.

Significantly, young victims of cyberbullying are typically hesitant about confiding in adults. Cyberbullying may cause symptoms like post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to suicide. 

In addition, bullying and cyberbullying incidents are frequently linked to the development of depression, social anxiety, and mental health issues.


Victims Often Suffer in Silence



According to a UNICEF survey (2020), those who experience cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs. As such, cyberbullying greatly endangers one's health and well-being.

In addition, young adults who have experienced cyberbullying are frequently hesitant about confiding in adults. In this way, the symptoms of cyberbullying may resemble those of post-traumatic stress disorder, which might result in suicide.

Bullying and cyberbullying experiences are frequently associated with the emergence of depression, social anxiety, and other mental health issues. Cyberbullied adults similarly have a greater depressed affect, anxiety, loneliness, suicide ideation, and physical symptoms. 

With cyberbullying becoming an international public health concern linked to major mental health issues, it has a considerable influence on teenagers' sadness, anxiety, self-esteem, emotional distress, drug use, and suicidal behaviour. It also contributes to physical health difficulties in youth. 

As a growing international public health concern, Cyberbullying victimization and perpetration has a substantial negative influence in society. It is linked to physical and mental health difficulties for both adults and youths alike.


Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention


Despite the negative consequences of cyberbullying, effective cyberbullying prevention and intervention initiatives are still lacking. 

Different support methods may reduce the consequences of victimization on psychological well-being. For example, cyberbullying education should be integrated into academic debates and community conversations about cyberbullying laws, responsibility, and character (Nixon, 2014).

Moreover, family social support may also be a significant protective element in preventing the harmful health consequences of cyberbullying and hence warrants more investigation. 

Similarly, social support might be a major protective element in reducing the detrimental consequences of cyberbullying.

Creating awareness among educators, health care professionals, parents, and teenagers about the severe nature of cyberbullying may be a first step toward addressing the detrimental impacts.

In addition, adults must be trained in effective anti-cyberbullying measures to reduce and limit the harmful impacts of cyberbullying.

All in all, there is a great need for comprehensive, community-based cyberbullying prevention and intervention programmes. Effective prevention and intervention measures must be prioritized.

Ruqiya Anwar, PhD scholar of media and communication studies from Pakistan, is a researcher and socio-political analyst focusing on the nexus between domestic and global politics and the intersection of politics and security.