Cyberbullying can be associated with a higher risk of experiencing eating disorder symptoms in 10-14 years old, finds study. The research indicates that both being a victim of cyberbullying and perpetrating cyberbullying are associated with the high risk of experiencing eating disorder symptoms, such as worrying about gaining weight, tying one’s self-worth to weight, binge eating, and distress with binge eating.
“Cyberbullying could lead to low self-esteem, body image dissatisfaction, and unhealthy attempts to control weight, which could impact the risk of mental health issues, including eating disorder symptoms,” said lead author Chloe M. Cheng, medical student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
The study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, is based on the data from 11,875 children aged 10-14 years old in the US. The children answered questions about whether they had experienced cyberbullying victimisation and perpetration, as well as whether they had experienced eating disorder symptoms.
About 9.5 per cent of the adolescents in the study reported experiencing lifetime cyberbullying victimisation, and 1.1 per cent had experienced lifetime cyberbullying perpetration. Cheng also suggested clinicians consider assessing cyberbullying and eating disorder symptoms in early adolescence and provide anticipatory guidance.
Jason M. Nagata, Associate Professor of paediatrics at UCSF suggested “adolescents to limit social media that encourages eating disorders and appearance comparisons”. “Parents should advise their children to avoid cyberbullying and encourage them to report online harassment if it occurs,” Nagata said.