Under the Hood

Cyberbullying Increases Risk Of Depression

There is another reason for parents to monitor their kids’ activities on social media. Researchers have found that the teens who are exposed to cyberbullying have higher chances of suffering from poor sleep and increased levels of depression.

The research team from University at Buffalo in New York called for increased focus on children who have active engagement online and poor “sleep hygiene.”

"Cyber victimization on the internet and social media is a unique form of peer victimization and an emerging mental health concern among teens who are digital natives," Misol Kwon, first author of the study and a doctoral student in the UB School of Nursing, said in a statement. "Understanding these associations supports the need to provide sleep hygiene education and risk prevention and interventions to mistreated kids who show signs and symptoms of depression."

The findings, published in the journal Sleep, come from the analysis of data of sleep quality, cyber aggression and depression of more than 800 adolescents. Researchers said their study is among the few efforts that explored the connection between cyber victimization and sleep quality.

Social Media, Sleep and Mental Health

The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health said that when teens experience symptoms of depression and changes in sleep pattern, they may also experience persistent irritability, anger and social withdrawal. Nearly one third of teens in the country are estimated to be facing such condition. 

Cyberbullying may have been contributing to mental problems in young Americans. Kwon said nearly 15 percent of U.S. high school students report being bullied electronically, with some cases leading to disrupted school performance, harmed relationships or suicide.

Highlighting the findings of the latest study, the researchers called on the research community and clinicians to try to understand and target sleep quality and other risk factors that may increase risks of depression in young people. 

Kwon will present the study at SLEEP 2019 annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio, Texas, in early June. The study received $1.8 million in funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the National Institutes of Health.