Exploring the Psychological Impact of Cyberbullying

Understanding the Impact of Cyberbullying on Psychological Health and the Need for Effective Prevention Strategies

By: Julia Yousif, MA

June 24, 2024

Cyberbullying has emerged as a significant concern in the digital age, with profound implications for individuals’ psychological well-being. Research indicates that approximately one million people worldwide fall victim to cybercrime annually, a subset of which includes cyberbullying (Hosani et al., 2019). In the United States alone, nearly 13 million adolescents have reported experiencing cyberbullying (Hosani et al., 2019). Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are common arenas for these harmful behaviors (Hosani et al., 2019).

Despite its prevalence and detrimental effects, cyberbullying is often overlooked in legal frameworks. In the United States, for instance, several states lack specific legislation addressing electronic forms of harassment (Hosani et al., 2019). Similarly, the United Kingdom and Canada face challenges in effectively prosecuting cyberbullying due to inadequate legal provisions (Hosani et al., 2019). In contrast, countries like the United Arab Emirates have stringent laws against cybercrime, underscoring global disparities in legal responses to cyberbullying (Hosani et al., 2019).

The impact of cyberbullying extends beyond immediate distress, potentially exacerbating psychological conditions. Traditional measures like the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) tool, established to evaluate childhood trauma, do not currently encompass cyberbullying (Felitti et al., 1998). This gap highlights a critical need for research that examines how cyberbullying contributes to adverse psychological outcomes alongside traditional ACEs.

Existing literature primarily focuses on adolescent populations, leaving a significant gap in understanding the long-term impacts on adults. Recent studies by Nagata et al. (2022) and Miller et al. (2023) have begun to explore these associations, highlighting the need for further investigation into adult experiences of cyberbullying and ACEs. Miller et al. (2023) emphasized the role of intrapersonal characteristics such as self-efficacy and self-esteem in mitigating the psychological impact of cyberbullying.

Moving forward, the following research study aims to better understand ACEs and cyberbullying experiences and analyze their combined impact on adult psychological health, specifically adult self-esteem and self-efficacy. By addressing these gaps, policymakers can develop more effective strategies to prevent and mitigate the effects of cyberbullying across the lifespan. If this topic interests you or someone you know, please see the flyer below for more information on how to participate in this study. Survey Link: https://alliant.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_79UDQsgQw8vZ2yq


Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., Koss, M. P., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Childhood abuse and household dysfunction are linked to many leading causes of adult death. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245–258. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-3797(98)00017-8.

Hosani, H. A., Yousef, M., Shouq, S. A., Iqbal, F., & Mouheb, D. (2019). A comparative analysis of cyberbullying and cyberstalking laws in the UAE, US, UK, and Canada. 2019 IEEE/ACS

16th International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications (AICCSA), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1109/aiccsa47632.2019.9035368

Miller, H. H., Jenkins, L., Putzeys, S., Kaminski, S., & Woodall, M. (2023). Bullying victimization and adverse childhood experiences: Retrospective reports of relative impact on emotional distress. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-023-00567-5

Nagata, J. M., Trompeter, N., Singh, G., Raney, J., Ganson, K. T., Testa, A., Jackson, D. B., Murray, S. B., & Baker, F. C. (2022). Adverse childhood experiences and early adolescent cyberbullying in the United States. Journal of Adolescence, 95(3), 609–616. https://doi.org/10.1002/jad.12124