ISSN - 0973-0958
Internet Victimization and Depression among Adolescents 22/07/2017 https://www.pediatriconcall.com/Journal/images/journal_cover.jpg
 
DOI : 10.7199/ped.oncall.2017.47
   
 
Internet Victimization and Depression among Adolescents
Anand Kr Agarwal*, Ashish Verma*, Manisha Agarwal**
*Department of Pediatrics and ** Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Career Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Address for Correspondence
Dr Ashish Verma, Assistant professor, Dept of paediatrics, Career institute of medical sciences, IIM Road Lucknow PIN 226020
 
Email
ashish.paed81@gmail.com
 
Abstract
Introduction: Internet victimization and depression has become an important public mental health issue affecting children and adolescents. According to the stress generation model of depression, individuals with depressive symptoms may contribute to the generation of additional stress in their lives, including victimization.
Material & Methods: Nine hundred students, aged between 13-18 years were randomly selected and surveyed regarding the involvement of violence in the last six months from the schools of Lucknow city. Among victims, the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ9) were also administered to assess the degree of depression.
Observations: Out of 900 adolescents, 650 (72.2%) used the internet. Total 492 (75.7%) of children were bullied of which 270 (41.5%) were boys and 222 (34.2%) were girls. According to PHQ9 score, 414 (84.1%) suffered from depression of which 381 (77.4%) had minimal depression, 31 (6.3%) had mild depression and 2 (0.4%) had moderate depression. None suffered from severe depression. Among the remaining 250 children who were non-users of internet, 18 (7.2 %) had depression (p <0.0001).
Discussion: Internet usage and depression are hand-in-hand. Depressed teens are more likely to become targets of bullying than their healthier peers.
 
Keywords
victimization, bullying, depression.
 
Introduction
The rapid emergence of the Internet as a communication venue for adolescents has been accompanied by diametrically opposed views about its social consequences. The Internet motivates adolescents to form online contacts with strangers rather than to maintain friendships with their offline peers. Because online contacts are seen as superficial weak-tie relationships that lack feelings of affection and commitment, the Internet is believed to reduce the quality of adolescents' existing friendships and, thereby, their well-being. (1) Internet victimization and depression has become an important public mental health issue affecting children and adolescents in a significant proportion of the society. According to the stress-generation model of depression, individuals with depressive symptoms may contribute to the generation of additional stress in their lives, including victimization. (2) The literature shows that adolescents who are cyberbullied experience more depressive symptoms. (3) Virtually all types of online and offline victimization are independently related to depressive symptomatology, delinquent behavior, and substance abuse. (4) According to the researchers from McMaster University Canada, The side effects of internet addiction is not just limited to wastage of time, people who use the internet excessively are prone to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety These days, access to the internet is viewed as a basic necessity. Adolescents lose communication skills because they have less need for face-to-face interaction. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International, the number of users who have access to the internet in India is expected to reach 450-465 million by June, 2017. This figure is up 4-8 percent from 432 million in December 2016. The overall internet penetration in the country is 31 percent. (5) In the light of these facts this study was designed to explore the effect of internet victimization on the mental health of Indian adolescents with special reference to depression.
 
Methods & Materials
A cross-sectional survey was conducted by using an anonymous pre-tested self-reported questionnaire (Annexure 1) regarding involvement in violence in the last six months among 900 students, aged between 13-18 years. These students were randomly selected from the government and private sector schools of Lucknow city. The response scale assessed in the format: 0 (never), 1 (1 or 2 times), 2 (3 or 4 times), or 3 (5 or more times). Before the process of assessment, interrogator tried to develop a confident and faithful relationship. During the interview, the pediatrician and psychologist assessed the health status of student. Further the subjects were also administered the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ9) to assess the degree of depression among victims. (6)

Annexure 1: Self-reported questionnaire
1. Are you using internet? (Yes / No)
2. How frequently do you use internet? (Daily/ Every 2-3 days/ weekly)
3. Do you use email? (Yes / No)
4. Do you use Facebook? (Yes / No)
5. Do you have twitter account? (Yes / No)
6. Do you use other social media sites? (Yes / No)
7. Have you been abused in last 6 months? (Yes / No)
8. How frequently have you been abused in last 6 months? (Daily/ Every 2-3 days/ weekly)
9. Was abuse in form of bad comments? (Yes / No)
10. Was abuse in abusive language? (Yes / No)
11. Was abuse in disturbing pictures? (Yes / No)
12. Was it threats? (Yes / No)
13. Was it to reflect your name bad in society? (Yes / No)
14. Was it in connection of a love affair? (Yes / No)
15. Was it revenge? (Yes / No)

 
Results
Out of 900 adolescents, 650 (72.2%) used the internet, of which 397(44.11%) and 253 (28.11%) belonged to 16-18 years and 13-15 years age group respectively. Male: female ratio was 359:291. The students who assessed internet daily were 434 (66.8%) while 168 (25.8%) and 48 (7.4%) assessed every 2-3 days or weekly respectively. Of the 650 students who accessed internet, 492 (75.7%) were bullied in the last six months period, of which 270 (41.5%) were boys and 222 (34.2%) were girls and 302 (46.5%) victims were of 16-18 years and 190 (29.2%) were in 13-15 years age group (Table 1 and 2). According to PHQ9 score 414 (84.14%) suffered from the depression. Minimal depression was present in 381 (77.4%), 31 (6.3%) had mild depression and 2(0.4%) moderate depression. None suffered from severe depression. Among the remaining 250 children who were non-users of internet, 18 (7.2 %) had depression (p <0.0001). Cause of depression was not drilled in this group.

Table 1: Internet usage and bullying in each age group
Internet usage Age group 16-18 years Age group 13-15 years
Facebook usage 357 (54.9%) 205 (31.5%)
Twitter usage 51 (7.8%) 22 (3.3%)
Other Social Media usage 334 (51.3%) 216 (33.2%)
Email usage 271 (41.6%) 185 (28.4%)
Bullying
Bullying in form of bad comments 191 (38.8%) 132 (26.8%)
Bullying in form of abusive language 87 (17.7%) 67 (13.6%)
Bullying in form of disturbing pictures 92 (14.1%) 51 (10.4%)
Threatened to give bad name in society 201 (40.9%) 43 (8.7%)
Threatened relating to a love affair 150 (30.5%) 67 (13.6%)
Threatened in form of revenge 143 (29%) 124 (25.2%)


Table 2: Internet usage and bullying as per gender
Internet usage Age group 16-18 years Age group 13-15 years
Facebook usage 300 (46.2%) 262 (40.3%)
Twitter usage 41 (6.3%) 32 (4.9%)
Other Social Media usage? 314 (48.3%) 236 (36.3%)
Email usage 210 (32.3%) 246 (37.8%)
Bullying
Bullying in form of bad comments 171 (34.8%) 152 (13.9%)
Bullying in form of abusive language 96 (19.5%) 58 (11.7%)
Bullying in form of disturbing pictures 57 (11.6%) 86 (17.5%)
Threatened to give bad name in society 108 (21.9%) 136 (27.6%)
Threatened relating to a love affair 115 (23.4%) 102 (20.7%)
Threatened in form of revenge 146 (29.7%) 121 (24.6%)
 
Discussion
Depression is a symptom of several disorders that range from mild to severe and from transitory to chronic. As per Global Peace Index 2014, about 2.8 million youth in the age group of 12-17 years have at least one major depressive episode. (7) Present study confirms the report whereby 70 percent of individuals have more than one episode of depression before adulthood. (6) Cyberbullying and depression are hand-in-hand and most studies can't prove that the bullying caused depression. It's possible that depressed teens are more likely to become targets of bullying than their healthier peers. However, Hamm et al found that the cyberbullying preceded the teens' depression, hinting at a causal relationship. (8) In the present study, most of adolescents aged 16-18 years had depression probably as they are more conscious of their give and take relationships.

Cyberbullying has been found to increase the likelihood of depressive symptomatology in victims both in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. (9) Cognitive theories indicate that the impact of victimization on subsequent psychopathology may be mediated by cognitive vulnerabilities, which include dysfunctional cognitive schemas about the way in which people view themselves and the world. (10,11) The experiences of victimization by peers can also negatively affect the construction of dysfunctional schemes of oneself and of social relationships which may lead to the suicidal tendency. Internet victimization predicts other cognitive vulnerabilities, such as a negative inference style (12) and early maladaptive schemas. (13)
This is high time to make the cyber space safe, especially in digital India. We need to apply all the predictive and preventive available tools at the school level to revert the running equation in the favor of our young adults. (14)
 
Funding
None
Conflict of Interest
None
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Last Updated : Saturday, July 1, 2017 Vol 14 Issue 3 Art #47
DOI: 10.7199/ped.oncall.2017.47
How to Cite URL :
Agarwal K A, Verma A, Agarwal M. Internet Victimization and Depression among Adolescents. Pediatric Oncall [serial online] 2017[cited 2017 July-September 1];14. Art #47. Available From : http://www.pediatriconcall.com/pediatric-journal/View/fulltext-articles/1099/J/0/0/584/0
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