Cyberbullying Linked to Teen Health Problems

 Cyberbullying Linked to Teen Health Problems

Katie Drummond Contributor

(July 5) -- Teasing and bullying are no longer confined to the schoolyard: Digital abuse -- whether via cell phone, social networking sites or e-mail -- has become increasingly common among kids and teens.

In the wake of troubling incidences of cyberbullying-related suicides, a new study has concluded that the psychological and physical impact of the aggressive activities are remarkably common among both victims and perpetrators.

A research team out of Finland's Turku University, whose work appears in this month's issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, surveyed 2,215 teens ages 13 to 16. The teens were asked about their health, substance use, bullying experiences and psychosomatic symptoms.

Teens who'd been victims of cyberbullying suffered from emotional distress, concentration problems, headaches and abdominal pain, and had difficulty sleeping. Cyberbullies indicated several of the same symptoms, as well as behavioral problems, hyperactivity and frequent substance abuse.

The study's results indicate that swaths of U.S teens could be affected: A 2007 report from the Journal of Adolescent Health estimated that 34 percent of teens had been the victims of cyberbullying, and 20 percent had perpetrated the digital deeds.

And cyberbullying is particularly worrisome because of just how pervasive it can be.

Because it occurs anywhere, cyberbullying effectively eliminates the safe haven of home. Perpetrators are often meaner, because the acts can be relatively anonymous, and the bullying can reach hundreds of teens with the click of a single button, warns the National Crime Prevention Council.

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