Teens who experience cyberbullying are more likely to suffer from poor sleep, which causes a vicious circle because lack of sleep can raise levels of depression
Although research has examined the relationship between online bullying and depression, the University of Buffalo study is one of few to explore the connection between cyber victimization and sleep quality.
The study surveyed more than 800 adolescents for sleep quality, cyber aggression and depression.
“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,” said the study’s lead author, Misol Kwon. “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.”
Nearly one third of teens have experienced symptoms of depression, which, in addition to changes in sleep pattern, include persistent irritability, anger and social withdrawal, according to the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health.
And nearly 15 percent of U.S. high school students report being bullied electronically, says Kwon. At severe levels, depression may lead to disrupted school performance, harmed relationships or suicide.
The risks of allowing depression to worsen highlight the need for researchers and clinicians to understand and target sleep quality and other risk factors that have the potential to exacerbate the disorder.