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Cyberbullying puts female students at depression risk

IANS  |  New York 

Involvement in cyberbullying increases risk of depression in female college students - for both bullies and victims , says a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

What is worse is that the bullies are also likely to report problem alcohol use, the researchers noted.

"Participants with any involvement in cyberbullying had increased odds of depression and those involved in cyberbullying as bullies had increased odds of both depression and problem alcohol use," said Rajitha Kota from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in the US.

Cyberbullying and its effects have been studied largely in middle and high school students, but less is known about cyberbullying in college students.

This cross-sectional study investigated the relationship between involvement in cyberbullying and depression or problem alcohol use among college females.

For the study, two hundred and sixty-five female students from four colleges completed online surveys assessing involvement in cyberbullying behaviours.

Participants also completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to assess depressive symptoms and the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) to assess problem drinking.

The researchers found that more than one in four females experienced cyberbullying in college, increasing their risk for depression.

Among the participants who had experienced cyberbullying, the most common behaviours reported were hacking into another person's account, receiving unwanted sexual advances, being harassed by text message, and posting of degrading comments.

Those who had experienced unwanted sexual advances online or via text message had six-fold increase in odds of depression, the findings showed.

The study appeared in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

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First Published: Fri, February 20 2015. 12:28 IST