Cyberbullying and Mental Health in Adults: The Moderating Role of Social Media Use and Gender

Kaitlyn B. Schodt, Selena I. Quiroz, Brittany Wheeler, Deborah L. Hall, Yasin N. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research has identified a link between mental health and cyberbullying, primarily in studies of youth. Fewer studies have examined cyberbullying in adults or how the relation between mental health and cyberbullying might vary based on an individual's social media use. The present research examined how three indicators of mental health—depression, anxiety, and substance use—interact with social media use and gender to predict cyberbullying in adults. In Study 1, U.S. adults recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (N = 525) completed an online survey that included measures of mental health and cyberbullying. Multiple regression analyses revealed significant three-way interactions between mental health, degree of social media use, and gender in models predicting cyberbullying victimization and perpetration. Specifically, for men, depression and anxiety predicted greater cyberbullying victimization and perpetration, particularly among men with relatively higher levels of social media use. In contrast, depression and anxiety were uncorrelated with cyberbullying for women, regardless of level of social media use. Study 2 largely replicated these findings using well-validated measures of mental health (e.g., Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Global Appraisal of Individual Needs Substance Use scale) in U.S. adults recruited through Prolific.co (N = 482). Together, these results underscore the importance of examining mental health correlates of cyberbullying within the context of social media use and gender and shed light on conditions in which indicators of mental health may be especially beneficial for predicting cyberbullying in adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number674298
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adults
  • anxiety
  • cyberbullying and cyber aggression
  • depression
  • gender
  • mental health
  • social media use
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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