The health risks of cyberbullying in college

Infamous quotes from famous cases of teenage cyberbullying, each ending tragically with the victim taking her life. Heartbreaking cases like these galvanized research and today much more is known about the damaging effects of cyberbullying among middle and high school studentsincluding an increased risk for depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, hostility and delinquency.

What about college students? After all, they’re the most frequent users of digital technology and social media sites. Will their increased maturity and experience keep them safe?

Not so much, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin. Questioning 265 girls enrolled in four colleges, researchers found college-age females just as likely to suffer the negative effects of cyberbullying as younger adolescents.

One of the frustrating things about being an advocate against cyberbullying,” says Ho, “is that a lot of people don’t realize how intense cyberbullying can be in this kind of high-technology age and the physical as well as mental impact it can have.”

“For many of us who are adults and didn’t grow up with online access, we can see that distinction between online and offline very clearly,” adds Moreno. “But for youth, there isn’t a distinction. We used to say either online or real world, and youth say ‘No, no, you don’t get it, online IS my real world’.”