Peer Cybervictimization Among Adolescents and the Associated Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: A Meta-Analysis

Abstract

Numerous adolescents in the United States experience peer cybervictimization, which is associated with a series of internalizing (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger) and externalizing (e.g., aggression, substance use, risky sexual behavior) problems. The current study provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research on these relationships. Included in the meta-analyses are 239 effect sizes from 55 reports, representing responses from 257,678 adolescents. The results of a series of random effects meta-analyses using robust variance estimation indicated positive and significant relationships between peer cybervictimization and a series of internalizing and externalizing problems, with point estimates of this relationship ranging from Pearson’s r = .14 to .34. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the meta-analysis

  1. * Anderson, N. B. (2009). Cyberbullying among school aged chidlren: Implications for prevention and intervention programs (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3421608).

  2. * Aoyama, I., Saxon, T. F., & Fearon, D. D. (2011). Internalizing problems among cyberbullying victims and moderator effects of friendship quality. Multicultural Education and Technology Journal, 7, 92–105. doi:10.1108/17504971111142637.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. * Badaly, D., Kelly, B. M., Schwartz, D., & Dabney-Lieras, K. (2013). Longitudinal associations of electronic aggression and victimization with social standing during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 891–904. doi:10.1007/s10964-012-9787-2.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. * Bauman, S., Toomey, R. B., & Walker, J. L. (2013). Associations among bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide in high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 36, 341–350. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.12.001.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Bergeron, N., & Schneider, B. H. (2005). Examining cross-national differences in peer-related aggression: A quantitative synthesis. Aggressive Behavior, 31, 116–137. doi:10.1002/ab.20049.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to meta-analysis. West Sussex: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  7. * Brown, C. F. (2011). Middle school cyber victimization: Outcomes, grade and gender differences, and the overlap with traditional victimization (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (1506277).

  8. * Burton, K. A., Florell, D., & Gore, J. S. (2013a). Differences in proactive and reactive aggression in traditional bullies and cyberbullies. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 22, 316–328. doi:10.1080/10926771.2013.743938.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. * Burton, K. A., Florell, D., & Wygant, D. B. (2013b). The role of peer attachment and normative beliefs about aggression on traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Psychology in the Schools, 50, 103–115. doi:10.1002/pits.21663.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. * Campfield, D. C. (2008). Cyber bullying and victimization: Psychosocial characteristics of bullies, victims, and bully/victims (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3324499).

  11. * Carter, J. (2011). Examining the relationship among physical and psychological health, parent and peer attachment and cyberbullying in adolescents in urban and suburban environments (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3487354).

  12. Cassidy, W., Faucher, C., & Jackson, M. (2013). Cyberbullying among youth: A comprehensive review of current international research and its implications to policy and practice. School Psychology International, 34, 575–612. doi:10.1177/0143034313479697.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. * Chan, S. F., & La Greca, A. M. (2016). Cyber victimization and aggression: Are they linked with adolescent smoking and drinking? Child & Youth Care Forum, 45, 47–63. doi:10.1007/s10566-015-9318-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. * Chin, M. A. (2011). Prevalence, gender differences, and mental health problems associated with traditional and cyber bullying (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (1496158).

  15. * Cooper, R. M., & Blumenfeld, W. J. (2012). Responses to cyberbullying: A descriptive analysis of the frequency of and impact on LGBT and allied youth. Journal of LGBT Youth, 9, 153–177. doi:10.1080/19361653.2011.649616.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. * Dempsey, A. G., Sulkowski, M. L., Nichols, R., & Storch, E. A. (2009). Differences between peer victimization in cyber and physical settings and associated psychosocial adjustment in early adolescence. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 962–972. doi:10.1002/pits.20437.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. * Dick, R. N., McCauley, H. L., Jones, K. A., Tancredi, D. J., Goldstein, S., Blackburn, S., et al. (2014). Cyber dating abuse among teens using school-based health centers. Pediatrics, 134, e1560–e1567. doi:10.1542/peds.2014-0537.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Digby, P. G. N. (1983). Approximating the tetrachoric correlation coefficient. Biometrics, 39, 753–757.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. * Elgar, F. J., Napoletano, A., Saul, G., Dirks, M. A., Craig, W., Poteat, V. P., et al. (2014). Cyberbullying victimization and mental health in adolescents and the moderating role of family dinners. Pediatrics, 168, 1015–1022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1223.

    Google Scholar 

  20. * Espinoza, G. (2013). A daily diary approach to understanding cyberbullying experiences among Latino adolescents: Links with emotional, physical and school adjustment (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3563457).

  21. * Fredstrom, B. K., Adams, R. E., & Gilman, R. (2011). Electronic and school-based victimization: Unique contexts for adjustment difficulties during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 405–415. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9569-7.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. * Hase, C. N., Goldberg, S. B., Smith, D., Stuck, A., & Campain, J. (2015). Impacts of traditional bullying and cyberbullying on the mental health of middle school and high school students. Psychology in the Schools, 52, 607–617. doi:10.1002/pits.21841.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hedges, L. V., Tipton, E., & Johnson, M. C. (2010). Robust variance estimation in meta-regression with dependent effect size estimates. Research Synthesis Methods, 1, 39–65. doi:10.1002/jrsm.5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. * Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2007). Offline consequences of online victimization: School violence and delinquency. Journal of School Violence, 6, 89–112. doi:10.1300/J202v06n03_06.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. * Hines, H. C. (2011). Traditional bullying and cyber bullying: Are the impacts the on self-concept the same? (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (1490835).

  26. * Hirschtritt, M. E., Ordóñez, A. E., Rico, Y. C., & LeWinn, K. Z. (2015). Internal resilience, peer victimization, and suicidal ideation among adolescents. International Journal of Adolescent Mental Health, 27, 415–423. doi:10.1515/ijamh-2014-0060.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Huang, F. L., & Cornell, D. G. (2015). The impact of definition and question order on the prevalence of bullying victimization using student self-reports. Psychological Assessment,. doi:10.1037/pas0000149.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. * Klomek, A. B., Marrocco, F., Kleinman, M., Schonfeld, I. S., & Gould, M. S. (2008). Peer victimization, depression, and suicidiality in adolescents. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 38, 166–180. doi:10.1521/suli.2008.38.2.166.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1073–1137. doi:10.1037/a0035618.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. * Kowalski, R., & Limber, S. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, S13–S20. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.09.018.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. * Landoll, R. R., La Greca, A. M., Lai, B. S., Chan, S. F., & Herge, W. M. (2015). Cyber victimization by peers: Prospective associations with adolescent social anxiety and depressive symptoms. Journal of Adolescence, 42, 77–86. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.04.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. W. (2001). Practical meta-analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  33. * Litwiller, B. J., & Brausch, A. M. (2013). Cyber bullying and physical bullying in adolescent suicide: The role of violent behavior and substance use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 675–684. doi:10.1007/s10954-013-9925-5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. * Martin, M. (2013). The nature and psychosocial correlates of electronic victimization and aggression in early adolescence (Masters thesis). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (1535758).

  35. * Messias, E., Kindrick, K., & Castro, J. (2014). School bullying, cyberbullying, or both: Correlates of teen suicidality in the 2011 CDC youth risk behavior survey. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 55, 1063–1068. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.02.005.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. Mishna, F., Saini, M., & Solomon, S. (2009). Ongoing and online: Children and youth’s perceptions of cyber bullying. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 1222–1228. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.05.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. * Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., Wolak, J., Ybarra, M. L., & Turner, H. (2011). Youth internet victimization in a broader victimization context. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48, 128–134. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.06.009.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. * Mitchell, K. J., Ybarra, M., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). The relative importance of online victimization in understanding depression, delinquency, and substance use. Child Maltreatment, 12, 314–324. doi:10.1177/1077559507305996.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. * Mitchell, K. J., Ybarra, M. L., Jones, L. M., & Espelage, D. (2016). What features make online harassment incidents upsetting to youth? Journal of School Violence, 15, 279–301. doi:10.1080/15388220.2014.990462.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., Altman, D. G., & The PRISMA Group. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement. PLoS Med, 6, e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed1000097.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  41. * Moore, P. M., Huebner, E. S., & Hills, K. J. (2012). Electronic bullying and victimization and life satisfaction in middle school students. Social Indicators Research, 107, 429–447. doi:10.1007/s11205-011-9856-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. New Media Trend Watch. (2013). World usage patterns & demographics. Retrieved from http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/world-overview/34-world-usage-patterns-and-demographics/.

  43. * Palmer, N. A. (2013). LGBT youth online and in person: Identity development, social support, and extracurricular and civic participation in a positive youth development framework (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3570797).

  44. * Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard a preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148–169. doi:10.1177/1541204006286288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. * Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and self-esteem. Journal of School Health, 80, 614–621. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00548.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. * Price, M., Chin, M. A., Higa-McMillan, C., Kim, S., & Frueh, B. C. (2013). Prevalence and internalizing problems of ethnoracially diverse victims of traditional and cyber bullying. School Mental Health, 5, 183–191. doi:10.1007/s12310-013-9104-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. * Randa, R. (2013). The influence of the cyber social environment on fear of victimization: Cyberbullying and school. Security Journal, 24, 331–348. doi:10.1057/sj.2013.22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. * Ranney, M. L., Patena, J. V., Nugent, N., Spirito, A., Boyer, E., Zatzick, D., et al. (2016). PTSD, cyberbullying and peer violence: Prevalence and correlates among adolescent emergency department patients. General Hospital Psychiatry, 39, 32–38. doi:10.1016/j.genjosppsych.2015.12.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. * Reed, K. P., Nugent, W., & Cooper, R. L. (2015). Testing a path model of relationships between gender, age, and bullying victimization and violent behavior, substance abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 55, 128–137. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.05.016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., & Telch, M. J. (2010). Peer victimization and internalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34, 244–252. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.07.009.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Reijntjes, A., Kamphuis, J. H., Prinzie, P., Boelen, P. A., van der Shoot, M., & Telch, M. J. (2011). Prospective linkages between peer victimization and externalizing problems in children: A meta-analysis. Aggressive Behavior, 37, 215–222. doi:10.1002/ab.20374.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. * Romero, A. J., Wiggs, C. B., Valencia, C., & Bauman, S. (2013). Latina teen suicide and bullying. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 35, 159–173. doi:10.1177/0739986312474237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. * Rose, C. A., & Tynes, B. T. (2015). Longitudinal associations between cybervictimization and mental health among U.S. adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57, 305–312. doi:10.1016/j.adohealth.2015.05.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Rosen, P. J. (2008). The victim schema model: A longitudinal study of social-cognitive processing, emotional distress, and peer victimization in childhood (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3315027).

  55. * Schneider, S. K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., & Coulter, R. W. (2012). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 102, 171–177. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  56. * Sinclair, K. O., Bauman, S., Poteat, V. P., Koenig, B., & Russell, S. T. (2012). Cyber and bias-based harassment: Associations with academic, substance use, and mental health problems. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50, 521–523. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.09.009.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. * Singh, R. D. (2016). The relationship between cyber-bullying and risk of suicide (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (10103512).

  58. * Sontag, L. M., Clemans, K. H., Graber, J. A., & Lyndon, S. T. (2011). Traditional cyber aggressor and victims: A comparison of psychosocial characteristics. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 392–404. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9575-9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Suzuki, K., Asaga, R., Sourander, A., Hoven, C. W., & Mandell, D. (2012). Cyberbullying and adolescent mental health. International Journal of Adolescent Mental Health, 24, 27–35. doi:10.1515/ijamh.2012.005.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Tanner-Smith, E. E., & Tipton, E. (2013). Robust variance estimation with dependent effect sizes: Practical considerations including a software tutorial in Stata and SPSS. Research Synthesis Methods, 5, 13–30. doi:10.1002/jrsm.1091.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. Tipton, E. (2015). Small sample adjustments for robust variance estimation with meta-regression. Psychological Methods, 20, 375–393. doi:10.1037/met0000011.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. * Tobias, S., & Chapanar, T. (2016). Predicting resilience after cyberbully victimization among high school students. Journal of Psychological and Educational Research, 24, 7–25.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 277–287. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.11.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. * Turner, M. G., Exum, M. L., Brame, R., & Holt, T. J. (2013). Bullying victimization and adolescent mental health: General and typological effects across sex. Journal of Criminal Justice, 41, 53–59. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus2012.12.005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. * Tynes, B. M., Giang, M. T., Williams, D. R., & Thompson, G. M. (2008). Online racial discrimination and psychological adjustment among adolescents. Journal of Adolsecent Health, 43, 565–569. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.08.021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. * Tynes, B. M., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Rose, C. A., Lin, J., & Anderson, C. J. (2012). Online racial discrimination and the protective function of ethnic identity and self-esteem for African American adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 48, 343–355. doi:10.1037/a0027032.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  67. U.S. Department of Education. (2013). Student reports of bullying and cyber-bullying: Results from the 2011 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013329.pdf.

  68. * Ubertini, M. (2010). Cyberbullying may reduce adolescent’s well-being: Can life satisfaction and social support protect them? (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (3431797).

  69. van Geel, M., Vedder, P., & Tanilon, J. (2014). Relationship between peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 168, 435–442. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4143.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Vaillancourt, T., McDougall, P., Hymel, S., Krygsman, A., Miller, J., Stiver, K., et al. (2008). Bullying: Are researchers and children/youth talking about the same thing? International Journal of Behavior Development, 32, 486–495. doi:10.1177/0165025408095553.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. * Varjas, K., Henrich, C. C., & Meyers, J. (2009). Urban middle school students’ perceptions of bullying, cyberbullying, and school safety. Journal of School Violence, 8, 159–176. doi:10.1080/15388220802074165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. * Wigderson, S., & Lynch, M. (2013). Cyber- and traditional peer victimization: Unique relationships with adolescent well-being. Psychology of Violence, 3, 297–309. doi:10.1037/a0033657.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. * Wright, M. F. (2015). Cyber victimization and perceived stress: Linkages to late adolescents’ cyber aggression and psychological functioning. Youth & Society, 47, 789–810. doi:10.1177/0044118X14537088.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Ybarra, M. L., Boyd, D., Korchmaros, J. D., & Oppenheim, J. (2012). Defining and measuring cyberbullying within the larger context of bullying victimization. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 53–58. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.12.031.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  75. * Ybarra, M. L., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2007). Examining the overlap in internet harassment and school bullying: Implications for school intervention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, S42–S50. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.004.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  76. * Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Examining characteristics and associated distress related to internet harassment: Findings from the second youth internet safety survey. Pediatrics, 118, e1169–e1177. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-0815.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  77. * Zweig, J. M., Lachman, P., Yahner, J., & Dank, M. (2013). Technology, teen dating violence and abuse, and bullying. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/243296.pdf.

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Emily Tanner-Smith and Joshua Polanin for assistance with data analysis, as well as the editor and anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Youth and Adolescence for their insight and feedback. We also thank the authors of the primary studies with whom we communicated for their helpful communication and the additional information they provided about their studies.

Author Contributions

Author BWF conceived of the study, coordinated and participated in eligibility screening and coding of reports, conducted the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript. Author JHG participated in eligibility screening and coding of reports and helped to draft the manuscript. Author ART participated in eligibility screening and coding of reports and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Benjamin W. Fisher.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants conducted by any of the authors.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fisher, B.W., Gardella, J.H. & Teurbe-Tolon, A.R. Peer Cybervictimization Among Adolescents and the Associated Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: A Meta-Analysis. J Youth Adolescence 45, 1727–1743 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0541-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Cyberbullying
  • Online victimization
  • Internalizing problems
  • Externalizing problems
  • Meta-analysis