To conduct a study looking at the prevalence and nature of Internet and mobile phone use in young people, focusing particularly on cyberbullying and its potential effects on young people's mental health.
Three secondary schools in an area of North Dublin were randomly selected, which included one all boys school, one all girls school and one co-educational school. Written information about the study was given to each school principal and to parents/carers of all first and second year students. First and second year students in each school from whom consent had been received were asked to complete two questionnaires, which included a questionnaire on cyberbullying and a self-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). A total of 130 students completed the study.
A total of 24 (18.46%) pupils were cyberbullied. Of these, 13 (65% of those cyberbullied) pupils who were cyberbullied said that it had a negative effect on their mood, and 9 (45% of those cyberbullied) said that cyberbullying had a negative effect on their overall mental health. A statistically significant higher proportion of pupils who were cyberbullied scored in the Abnormal/Borderline range of the SDQ, compared with those who were not cyberbullied.
This is the first study in Ireland, which looks at the potential mental health difficulties associated with cyberbullying. It is hoped that the information from this study will help to increase awareness of the effects of cyberbullying and help look at ways of managing cyberbullying.
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