Self-Esteem and Cyberbullying


We just received the page proofs from the Journal of School Health (official journal of the American School Health Association) for a piece entitled “Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem” that they recently accepted for publication. There has been much discussion recently as to how cyberbullying is related to depressive symptoms among adolescents, and so we also wanted to share with you how it is related to lower self-esteem – which, by the way, tends to be correlated with depression.

Adolescence is a time when identity development is particularly important – and often is linked to the social environment.  Teens therefore tend to seek behaviors and situations that help them value themselves positively and to avoid those who make them feel bad about who they are.  This, then, is tied into perceptions and acceptance of his or her changing self, and plays a critical role in shaping how they grow up, and the type of person they become.

The literature regarding bullying and self-esteem consistently finds that victims of bullying tend to have lower self-esteem than non-victims.  The precise reasons for this relationship are far less agreed upon and clear.  It may be that the experience of being victimized decreases one’s self-esteem, or that those who have low self-esteem are more likely to be targeted as victims.  Interestingly, the relationship between bullying offending and self-esteem is much less consistent.  Studies have found evidence to suggest that bullies tend to have both higher and lower self-esteem than non-bullies, and some studies have found no relationship at all.

So, we wanted to see how cyberbullying is linked to self-esteem, and studied this using data in a random sample of 1,963 students from 30 middle schools (6th through 8th grades) in one of the largest school districts in the United States.  Similar to the research on traditional bullying, we found that cyberbullying victims and offenders both have significantly lower self-esteem than those who have not been cyberbullying victims or offenders.  This relationship held regardless of gender, race, and age, although our results suggest that males, non-Whites, and older middle schoolers tend to have lower levels of self-esteem than their peers.  We also found that the relationship between cyberbullying victimization and self-esteem is definitely stronger than that of cyberbullying offending and self-esteem.

A good amount of research in the past has linked low self-esteem to poorer academic achievement, absenteeism, health problems, criminal behavior, and a number of other consequences.  The fact that cyberbullying is related to low self-esteem should motivate us to do all we can to prevent it, and hopefully preempt these other negative outcomes.

If you’d like a copy of the full paper – which lists the sources for the research previously mentioned, please drop us a note and we can send it your way.

UPDATED: Full text of the paper is available here.


  1. I think cyberbullying is a very dangerous thing that most children do to other children. Mostr children for there self enjoyment or to please others. Some other children do it to bould there self-esteem or they are having problems at home or they were bullyed once before so there is many causes of cyberbullying.

  2. It is very sad that people treat others the way they do for small and dumb reasons. Just like in Vada's story how quick a good friendship turned into a life changing situation. She thought she was just being a good friend even though she told her friend the truth. But it really didnt matter, because out of anger and disbelief her friends Ali acted in a cruel manner. People should be more understanding and shouldn't take things too far and out of control. Because death is a big result in situations occurring as the following cyber-bullying, e-bullying, text bullying, digital bullying and more. We have to figure out better ways to act upon situations and not allowing them to make you cold hearted and hurtful. Do you have any ideas of how that can be managed?

  3. Although some people may say it’s just a computer you can just walk away from it, but the reality is that is more complicated than that. There are psychological matters behind that allowing kids to just walk away from their problem isn’t just wrong but it will set them up for failure and possible low self- esteem. Turning off the computer won’t make the teasing go away while they are at school, movies or the playgrounds. As students when we take an exam we are constantly signing onto blackboard to check our grades just to see how we did because at the moment that’s the obstacle standing in the way of a perfect semester. The same thing could be said about someone being bullied online, they are constantly login onto their chat room to check to see if the obstacle (rumors, lies, threats, etc.),that stands in the way of their happiness has been removed so he/she can go back to their comfortable zone.

  4. I'm writing a research paper on the causes and effects of cyberbullying, and a major effects is low self-esteem. This website has given me some insight of how low self-esteem and cyberbullying relate, but the information isn't very detailed. In order to, complete my research paper I need as much data about the topic as available. I would appreciate it if you could maybe send me some information about the relationship between cyberbullying and low self-esteem THANK YOU!!

  5. I think cyber bullying has a lot to do with self-esteem issues and jealousy. I believe people are not content with themselves and instead of trying to change they have to bullying someone else to feel better. Cyber bullying is very hard to deal with because it causes you to second guess about yourself. If people are saying bad things about you then you might start to believe what they say even though it is not true. That’s great that you have you mom to talk to. Having a great support from family and friends can make the process of cyber bullying easier.

  6. cyberbullying is bad and should be stopped. I feel so bad and sorry for those who have and still are expirencing cyberbullying. I am using some of this information for a speech abouth why cyberbullying is bad and i think this will make my argument better.if u think if ok for this to continue, well all ive gotta say is u have some problems and if its u doing it please stop treat others how u want to be treatede and i know u wouldnt pick to be slandered and ridikilled

  7. sir/mam i am now doing thesis on bullying..and i wish to have the full paper of this study…this can help me on my study..thank you

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