Victims of Cyberbullying: Feeling Loneliness and Depression among Youth and Adult Chileans during the Pandemic

Jorge J. Varela, Cristóbal Hernández, Rafael Miranda, Christopher P. Barlett, Matías E. Rodríguez-Rivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Chile, during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of cyberbullying victimization increased for adolescents and younger adults. Research has shown that cyber-victims—adolescents and young adults alike—are at greater risk for mental health problems such as depression as a result of this negative type of aggression. Yet, a paucity of research has examined the individual mechanisms germane to cyber-victim depression. We focused on loneliness for the current study. We hypothesized that cyber-victimization would be positively related to depressive symptoms through increased fears of loneliness and that this effect would differ between adolescents and younger adults. Thus, we examined a sample of 2370 participants from all main regions of Chile aged from 15 to 29 years. Moderated mediation results showed a negative effect of cyberbullying on depression, which was mediated by increased fears of being alone. The effect of frequency of cyberbullying on fear of loneliness was stronger for younger adults compared to adolescents. Our results suggest different mechanisms for both age groups, which can inform prevention programs and their specific activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5886
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cyberbullying
  • depression
  • loneliness
  • pandemic

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