Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
School bullying is deant behavior initiated by one or more individuals against a victim, verbal
or physical abuse, bullying and humiliation. Although the name suggests a specic location, bullying
can take place anywhere (school, schoolyard, park, street, etc.). In addition to the direct participants in
bullying, there are also passive (or active) witnesses of bullying who either take sides or simply observe
the process. Many studies identify witnesses as important contributors to bullying and cyberbullying
incidents (Salmivalli, 2014), which can worsen or improve the victim’s situation by supporting or alleviating
their suffering (Pepler, Craig, and O’Connell, 2010, pp. 249). It has been proven that witnesses react
negatively to victims who post too much personal information and brag about their achievements
(Schacter, Greenberg and Juvonen, 2016). Also evidence exists that adolescents tend to overestimate
the salvic help of witnesses, who, as a rule, are wary of being in the position of a victim or of lowering
their status in a social group, so they always support the strongest or prefer not to interfere. An important
fact is that schools with no bullying are characterized by cohesion and a variety of extra-curricular forms
of interaction between students. “Not only an active social life, but also the atmosphere of openness,
the possibility of clarifying conicts under the guidance of a caring teacher - these are the conditions for
resisting bullying” (Lane, 2001, pp. 240-274).
The well-being of citizens is recognized as an important indicator of a country’s development. In
many countries, various aspects of children and adolescents’ well-being - from psychosomatic health
to children’s rights respect - are becoming the focus and goals of government’s social and educational
policies. Particularly often discussed is the ways children and adolescents’ well-being is being inuenced
by digital technologies spread that has fundamentally changed life in the 21
century. Modern life is
Cyber-victimization and Its Impact on Victim’s Psychosomatic Status
Elena A. Makarova
, Elena L. Makarova
Department of General and Counseling Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Pedagogy and Defectology, Don State Technical
University, Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation, e-mail: makarova.h@gmail.com
Department of Management and Innovative Technologies, Institute of Management in Economic, Environmental and Social
Systems, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation, e-mail: elmakarova@sfedu.ru
Abstract: Cyberbullying is an important issue to discuss and investigate. This study is a theoretical and empirical
research aimed at proving cyber-victimization’s negative impact on psychosomatic health. A direct relationship between these
two phenomena is that poor mood regulation in childhood entails dissatisfaction with surrounding world causing rage against
weaker peers, victimization, which affects victims’ psychosomatic status. Methods used are literature analysis for the research
and empirical part assessing aggressiveness in children (Buss-Darkey Inventory), their emotional state and psychosomatic health
problems caused by victimization (authors’ questionnaire. As a result young victims’ psychosocial problems are seen as having
negative consequences in later life. Because of these consequences, bullying becomes a hot topic and causes researchers,
parents’, as well as school teachers and school psychologists’ concern. Cyberbullying will continue as long as electronic
gadgets and communication devices are plugged in and used which is becoming an increasing problem due to dissemination
of information, telecommunication technologies and the involvement of children and adolescents in the widespread digitalization
of various spheres of life. In conclusion we recommend teachers and parents to develop understanding of cybervictimization,
besides to pay attention to their children’s emotional intelligence development that should help them resist victimization and
avoid health problems.
Keywords: victimization, bullying, cyber attack, violence model, cyber-bullying model, motivation, aggressive personality,
cyberspace aggression, cyber-victimization.
Original scientic paper
Received: March, 29.2023.
Revised: April, 26.2023.
Accepted: May, 11.2023.
© 2023 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Corresponding author: makarova.h@gmail.com
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
inconceivable without electronic gadgets and telecommunication devices. However, it is obvious that
children and adolescents are most vulnerable to the risks associated with the digital technologies’ negative
impact. Computer games, social networks and telecommunication gadgets are often blamed for impairing
children’s psychological well-being, for putting in jeopardy their somatic and psychological health, and
interfering with learning and communication.
At the same time, there are not enough scientic studies that would unmask digital technologies
inuence on children and adolescents’ psychosomatic condition. The results of the present research
are contradictory and topical. In our study we analyze digitalization’s major impact on various aspects
of children and adolescents’ psychosomatics. Modern digital technologies offer various opportunities,
from distant learning at the world’s best universities to searching for information that can help protect a
person’s health, safety and rights. But mainly children from well-to-do and educated families can benet
from these opportunities. Others, even if they would like to use the Internet, they may not have the
necessary equipment or skills to use advantages of modern technologies. The problem is due to the easy
and fast access to the Internet and other information technologies.
It should also be noted that the Internet and social media is a space where children face age-specic
problems that they also face in real life. Therefore, in matters of listing Internet threats and offering means
for their prevention, both increasing digital literacy and systematic support of children and adolescents in
solving the classic problems of uncertainty about the future, unstable self-esteem, seeking recognition,
dissatisfaction with oneself, etc. are important.
A variety of research works are devoted to different aspects of cyberbullying and cyber-victimization:
“these are gender-age, social activities, life-style and sexual inclinations” (Frolova and Senina, 2005;
Shalaginova, Kulikova and Cherkasova, 2014; Soloviev, 2012; Soloviev, 2015; Zvereva, 2008). The
conclusion of these studies is that cyberbullying is based on images of sexual humiliation, death threats,
and highlighting teens’ external aws or mental abilities.
Numerous studies have dened cyberbullying as a deliberate and aggressive act carried out via
electronic media. Cybervictimization is mainly related to the misuse of digital devices and gadgets such as
mobile phones (text messages, calls) or the Internet (instant messaging, gaming sites, social networking
sites, email, chat rooms). It is a real problem that adolescents’ Internet activities are not controlled by
parents or other adults. Disguised, unnoticed cyberbullying leads to dire consequences - at the worst -
to adolescent suicidal behavior, but it also destroys a constructive, development-oriented and creative
atmosphere of cooperation and trust in other people. Among the main consequences of cyberbullying
there is a suicidal behavior, the development of depressive and anxiety states, self-injury, psychoactive
substances intake, psychosomatic symptoms, the development of anorexia, bulimia, insomnia as a result
of decreased self-esteem due to bullying. Recipients also report higher levels of internalizing, cognitive
and motor impulsiveness and emotional dysfunction. Alexithymia is also possible.
Traumatic experience and childhood abuse were found to contribute to psychopathological
problems and dissociative symptoms (Zych et al., 2017; Chang, et al., 2019; John et al., 2018; Pozzoli
and Gini, 2020). It was also concluded that the time the cyber attack lasts matters causing more serious
impact, especially symptoms associated with sleeplessness, decreased immunity, frequent and severe
headaches, eating disorders, or attention decit. Added to this, conicts with parents, with other students
or teachers at school, emotional and mental disorders are also the symptoms. Increased anxiety,
unreasonable anger, experienced loneliness, frustration, and deep depression are often highlighted as
results of cyber-victimization. Some studies have found emerging mental health issues: negative body
image, problems with mood swings. Narcotic substances intake, theft, hooliganism, self-injury, harm and
rule breaking were found among external behavioral problems.
While cyberbullying seriously affects children and adolescents’ psychological health, there are a
number of factors that can reduce this impact. Overall satisfaction with life, friendly family relationships (as
compared to satisfaction from socializing with classmates or academic achievement) reduce the likelihood
of suicidal thoughts and intentions. A factor that reduces the risk of suicidal behavior in cyberbullying
victims is the experience of belonging to a school, a peer group, and their social support (Grebenkin,
The contemporary research of children and adolescents’ cyberspace aggression remains
amazingly high due to the ongoing increase of digital communication rates, social media development
and new interaction formats and the socialization via digital devices peculiarities. It should be mentioned
that information technology development has changed modern society life as a whole and communication
in particular.
Unfortunately, such changes affect people not only in a positive way, but also negatively. Due to
its anonymity the Internet provides virtual interaction as a free choice of social roles and activities. This
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
type of communication is unsafe and can damage the children and adolescents’ psychological health,
thus contributing to some psychosomatic issues. Analyzing aggressive and destructive behavior in the
Internet, we can nd it relevant “to an excessive self-disclosure in social networks and posting extremely
frank, provocative content, an increased interest in the details of personal lives of others, but a surprisingly
low level of friendly support, negative family impact and sexual violence” (Volkova, 2008). One of the
dangers of online communication is the ever-increasing cyberbullying and cybervictimization. “When new
computer technologies and social networks have entered our life, school bullying has evolved into a
completely new and sophisticated form of abuse in cyberspace “ (Audmaier, 2016). This concept was rst
dened as “the use of information and communication technologies to support repeated hostile behavior
aimed at a person or group of people with the purpose of insulting and humiliating (verbal aggression)”
(Belsey, 2019). Since then, cyberbullying and cybervictimization denitions have changed dramatically,
getting more aggressive and sophisticated due to technology development and improvement, and it is
usually aimed at people who cannot confront insult or withstand attacks. Analyzing different denitions
found in the studies it is easy to formulate differences between cyber-victimization and traditional bullying:
while traditional bullying (sometimes called a school-yard bullying) implies direct contacts between a bully
and a victim which can end up in a physical violence, all actions aimed at a person in cyberbullying take
place in virtual space anonymously, never get physical and is always disseminated across the cyberspace
within incredibly short time. If a teenager can hide in the safety of a house and escape ordinary school
bullying, there is no escape from cyberbullying that exists everywhere, where any electronic device or
gadget is connected to the Internet. But this difference is by no means the only one, and others relate
not to the victim, but to the bully. In the virtual space, a teenager can choose any social role; it becomes
possible to create an alternative “image of oneself”. In addition, the real personality can be deformed, as
a result of which teenagers cease to be themselves, to feel responsibility for their actions in front of other
people or in their own eyes.
In most cases, cyberbullying is still associated with bullying at school; however, the distinctive
features of each of these aggression forms must be recognized. With the Internet aggression, a bully can
be a complete stranger or distant acquaintance, compromising photos or pictures can be easily copied
and disseminated (thereby increasing the ability to cause harm even after the aggressor has ceased his
activities), and the victim cannot hide from the attack (without stopping the use of the network Internet,
getting in social isolation). However, the victim is often at a physical distance from the attacker during the
attack, which can also affect the perception of the severity of violence.
Surveys of adolescents in many countries (Gaffney and Farrington, 2018; Herrera-López, Romera
and Ortega-Ruiz, 2018; Riddell, Pepler and Craig, 2018) show that cyberbullying is a fairly common form
of interpersonal communication and a form of virtual extremism in today’s youth world. Its intensity varies
depending on a number of demographic characteristics (gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality) that
are important for researching the problem and for developing preventive measures and recommendations.
Adolescents with behavior deviations are characterized by high personal inclusiveness, overestimated
self-esteem, lack of criticism, while adults (parents and teachers) do not pay enough attention to such
acts of misbehavior and often evaluate the deviant behavior as “growing up” issues and a manifestation
of adulthood. Most often, juvenile delinquency is directed against peers, in many countries of the world
it is characterized as a violation of the individual’s rights and safety, that is, some kind of punishment
is supposed. Take Germany for example, the Parliament of the country adopted a law against cyber
aggression in 2015; according to this law unied standards of counteractions against cyber victimization
were introduced. Violators of this law can get as long as two years of imprisonment.
Cyberbullying is also related to antisocial aggression caused by grudge against more socially
adapted and successful peers, and it appears as an unfriendly manifestation towards classmates. Less
successful adolescents use aggressive behavior to avoid emotional dependence, do not trust anyone or
feel guilty for their misbehavior or have internal restrictions; usually they believe in external restrictions
and administrative punishment. Such adolescents act almost to their own detriment, as they fall under
the strict authoritative control. Many countries follow Germany’s example and adopt legislation to combat
cyber-aggression and to prevent cyber-victimization development.
Like other forms of violent behavior, cyberbullying is associated with human relationships, power
and control. Those who mock others, try to establish power and control over the “weaker” ones, want their
victims to feel insecure, to lower their self-esteem, to begin to doubt their adequacy, “thereby shifting the
locus of control, attributing to victims responsibility for the contretemps that happen to them” (Kondakov
and Nilopets, 1995).
Cyberbullying differs from other forms of bullying in many ways: while ordinary school bullying is
something that often goes unnoticed by adults and is perceived by them as a part of the growing up process,
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
the so-called “school of life”, cyberbullying is becoming an integral part of today’s life for young people
who are a generation that is “always in touch”, so cyberbullying is felt most acutely. A new generation of
electronic communications users is increasingly communicating in ways that are unknown to adults and
are away from their supervision. Cyberbullying is also different in that it is a particular form of aggression,
since it is easy for bullies to hide behind the anonymity that the Internet provides. Cyber bullies can deliver
their offensive messages to a very wide audience at astonishing speed. Most importantly, cyberbullying
does not provide any tangible feedback on the consequences of using information technology to intimidate
others, so bullies do not see the suffering of their victims, do not feel empathy, regret or remorse. Cyber
hooligans may not admit their actions, since it is usually very difcult to identify where the message has
come from (they use fake accounts and nicknames), so they are not afraid of the consequences and
punishment for their actions. Unlike regular school bullying, cyberbullying is often out of the reach of
school administrators, as aggressive behavior often occurs outside school, messages coming to students’
personal computers or through mobile phones.
Accordingly, the recent boom in the use of Smartphones, social media, online multiplayer gaming
and chatting by young people has not only opened up new places for social interaction and communication,
but also a space dominated by violence and aggression that victimizes children and adolescents. It is a
new virtual space that breaks down the old boundaries of family and community that might have protected
teens from aggression in the past. Global electronic communications have not created new psychological
threats, but they have made it much more difcult to protect adolescents from risks, as a result of which
many of them are exposed to blackmail, psychological pressure, humiliation, which only a few children
could face in life before. Now it’s not just teenagers left to their own devices and raised in the street or
inuenced by bad guys, they can be abused and bullied without even leaving the comfort of their homes.
“Virtual” bad company is easily accessible to most children and young people.
In the studies carried out by Russian and European researchers, aggressive behavior usually is
aimed at causing harm (physical or moral) to another person. Violence involves not only actions, but
also the intention to harm physically or verbally. With technological progress it is impossible to dene
aggression monosemantically as today it includes many different types of behavior that do not correspond
to the generally accepted meaning of violence. Denitely, we should consider physical aggression rst
as it varies from brawl to serious assault and even murder, but verbal aggression is no less serious as it
can cause moral and emotional problems in victims, most of them in the long run. In our study, “violent
behavior” is not to describe physical aggression that has a signicant risk of causing serious injury to
the victim, since we focus primarily on cyberbullying as the most dangerous and wide-spread form of
violence, as there is no shelter to hide from it. Despite the fact that Internet bullies cannot physically
harm the victim, cyber-victimization can be accompanied by signicant psychological or psychosomatic
consequences, many of them will stay with the victim in the long term. With regard to the subject of
our research, the following factors of the cyberbullying phenomenon can be distinguished: a) the child’s
propensity for aggression (for example, instability, moral promiscuity, etc.); b) previous experience of
bullying (stressors); c) constraints associated with cyberspace (for example, the strength of the virtual
disinhibition effect and technological efciency); d) parenting factors (for example, relationships with
parents, monitoring of interaction technologies).
Cyberbullying involves verbal abuse and manipulation, but online insults and rumors are also
considered. Violent acts are rarely the result of one cause; rather, many factors contribute to deviant
behavior. Accordingly, media impact can be considered as one of the factors that impact cyber aggression
and cyber victimization growth and spreading. We will not argue that the violence that teens see in the
media (movies with violent content, video games with violent scenes, abuse and harassment in the reality
shows) is the direct cause of teens’ violent behavior online and in real life. However, research on violence
in the media and games shows that online violence reinforces existing aggression. Violence in the media
is perceived differently by different researchers. Likewise, there is no common denition in public opinion
of what aggressive and violent behavior on the Internet might be. However, most researchers have a clear
understanding of what media violence and violent behavior is in online games (Berkowitz, 2001). Most of
them dene violence in the media as a visual depiction of physical aggression acts by one person or group
of people towards others (Maltseva, 2009, pp. 11). This denition appeared as consequences theories
of media violence developed, and now it is an attempt to describe the type of violence that causes the
viewer to be more violent, not only online, but also in everyday life. “Bullying on the Internet, even for
adults with good self-esteem, is not an easy trial. It is important for parents to understand that this is not
some kind of mythical threat, but absolutely real. Indeed, for a modern child, the telephone and social
networks are real life, an analogue of a courtyard company of friends, where everything is in plain sight. It
is impossible to deprive a child of communication in social networks, but it is important to control and limit
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
this communication, protecting a child” (Malkina-Pykh, 2006).
The theoretical approaches refer to biological processes in explaining aggression by emphasizing
psychological mechanisms involved in any aggressive behavior. It should be noted, however, that
the earliest trend in the theoretical development of this tradition - the psychoanalytic interpretation of
aggression according to Z. Freud - was also based on a biological approach, understanding aggressive
behavior as an expression of a genetically rooted instinct. Aggression is seen by Sigmund Freud as a
reaction to blocking or destructing of libidinal impulses; aggressive behavior is not only innate, originating
from the death instinct built-in into a person’s consciousness, but aggression is also inevitable, because if
the “death drive” is not turned outward, it will soon lead to personality destructionl. Freud’s metapsychology
(Freud, 2021) includes topographic, dynamic, structural, genetic, economic and adaptive approaches.
Aggression is understood very broadly in psychoanalytic literature. It can involve physical or verbal
action; conscious or unconscious desires of tension, a specic type of psychic energy and the idea of the
death instinct (Storr, 1969, pp. 97). The theory of aggression by Z. Freud and K. Lorentz is built on the idea
of aggression as an instinct that was originally inherent in biological species; it ultimately nds a denite
expression in the verbal or physical aggression of a human being. Both Z. Freud and K. Lorentz came to
the conclusion that in case aggression does not nd a way out, it will lead to tragic consequences. But
that was the only point they agreed on. In other respects, their views seem to be the opposite. Z. Freud
declared the theory of aggression as the instinct of destruction doctrine while K. Lorenz considered such
a theory unacceptable from the biological viewpoint, since he believed aggression as an instinct serves
the cause of life, while Z. Freud considered it as the “service of death”.
Their disagreement disappears when K. Lorenz talks about the initial function of aggression in
species-preserving during the evolutionary process. “K. Lorenz is trying to substantiate and strengthen
his hypothesis that a person’s defensive aggression turns into a constantly acting and self-developing
intention, which makes him seek and nd conditions for relaxation, or leads to an explosion if there is no
way to nd a suitable stimulus” (Fromm, 2021). According to Fromm if there are no suitable causative
agents of serious manifestations of aggression in socio-economic structure, the pressure of the instinct
is so strong that a human being is forced to change social conditions, if they don’t or can’t it might
lead to unexpected and inevitable violence outbursts and unreasonable aggression manifestations. K.
Lorenz (Lorenz, 1994) believes that a thirst for destruction drives a person through life; this viewpoint
actually coincides with Z. Freud’s ideas about aggression and death (Fromm, 2021) with one discrepancy:
according to Z. Freud, the passion for destruction opposes sexuality and life in general, while K. Lorenz
believes in love as the result of aggressive drives.
Materials and Methods
As a research method, a theoretical analysis of researchers’ rticles and books (more than 100
sources) found in electronic libraries ScienceDirect, Jstor, Springer, Cyberleninka, SAGE etc., mostly for
the last 5 years was carried out. Emphasis was made to search for articles and books describing original
research using author’s methods of research and models of aggression, violence, cybervictimization and
victims of cyberbullying psychosomatic problems. The theoretical review was to generalize the results of
previous research in Western scientic thought on the topic of cyberbullying and victimization, to identify
the links between the studied phenomena, and to systematize consistent or contradictory data. The
term “victimity” means realized or potential predisposition, the ability to become a victim crime under
certain circumstances, or avoid danger where it is objectively preventable due to objective and subjective
circumstances In other words, the victimization of a person is made up of personal and situational
components that are interconnected and interdependent In addition, there is a general victimization,
depending on social, role, gender, age characteristics of the individual, and special, implemented in
attitudes, properties and attributions of the personality. Victimization is divided into eventual, i.e. random,
causal an investigative complex of factors under certain conditions to become a victim of criminal
encroachment, i.e. the ability to become a victim as a result of making a victimogenic decision and/or
victimizing activity.
The authors’ questionnaire on cyberbullying designed for sociodemographic variable recipients
and describing its consequences, diagnostics of the state of aggression (Buss-Darkey questionnaire),
emotions test (Buss-Darkey test modied by G. Rezapkina) were used as methods assessment and
evaluation in the study that involved 151 people (118 females and 33 males) - schoolchildren of secondary
schools and students of secondary vocational education (University level). In our survey (2021-2022),
93% of adolescents who experienced cyber-victimization before believe that the experience negatively
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
affected them (e.g., “caused depression and/or self-doubt, unwillingness to socialize with peers”). To
further complicate the measurement of this phenomenon, we considered the time during which the
respondent experienced cyberbullying (during certain periods of time, for 2-3 months for 5 years or for
2-3 weeks). As with any new psychological phenomena rapidly developing, researchers have not yet
established a standard accepted method or measuring tool. Instead, each research group independently
develops its own survey instrument to assess teen cyberbullying and the victimization it causes. As a
basis, we took the traditional Olvaeus-Likert scale, “a psychometric scale developed by R. Likert in 1932
(a scoring scale for each individual item)” (Wuensch, 2009). For the study, we have chosen the following
denitions of cyberbullying that include not only a computer, but also other means of communication,
have suggested the regularity of bullying (for example, at least once or twice in the last few months),
and estimated approximately 2- 3 month time period of bullying. We have considered cyberbullying in a
modern digital society as a threat to the psychological well-being of all the participants. The statements in
the questionnaire were consistent, simple in wording, unambiguous for perception. However, the novelty
of constructing such a scale for cyberbullying and the ability of even one incident to cause noticeable
discomfort and / or deterioration in the psychological or psychosomatic condition of the respondent led
to the fact that we used less stringent assessment criteria (i.e. requiring that bullying or victimization
take place at least 2-3 times a month for categorization). Nevertheless in the research the types and key
indicators of cybervictimization have been identied.
“Although cyberbullying is a new and notorious social phenomenon, much of the research has its
roots in the traditional research on school bullying. The current focus of our study was the demographic
characteristics of those who were engaged in cyberbullying. In particular, we assumed that the degree
of cyber participation would differ depending on age, gender, and personality characteristics previously
identied and described” (Makarova, Makarova and Makhrina, 2016). Extensive research has identied
gender differences in aggressive behavior. Male respondents are more likely to be perpetrators and
victims of direct forms of bullying (e.g. physical bullying), female respondents are more likely to engage
in verbal and social forms of bullying (spreading rumors, arranging social isolation, boycott or socializing
restrictions). Based on these patterns and the fact that innovative communication technologies enable
verbal and social aggression, we hypothesized that girls are more likely to be the victim than the aggressor
in cyberbullying, thus getting more psychosomatic problems as a result. While most studies did not nd
gender differences—girls and boys are equally likely to be both victims and perpetrators—our study
found gender differences that differ by type of involvement (for example, boys are more likely to become
cyberbullies, while girls are more likely to become victims of cyberbullying). The survey revealed that
the number of girls in grades 6-8 was disproportionate in the sections of victims and bullies. Our results
(Figure 1 and Figure 2) also show a discrepancy between the nal data, which was difcult to explain.
Figure 1. Frequency of cyberbullying experiences by male and female respondents
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
Figure 2. Frequency of psychosomatic problems male and female respondents have as cyberbullying
However, these results indicate that gender differences may in particular be caused by age - gender
differences disappear among the older adolescents surveyed. Age is another demographic variable that
has been extensively studied in bullying and victimization studies. There is an opinion that bullying gradually
decreases with the age, the highest level of participation was registered among secondary school students
(i.e. ages 10-14). Physical forms of bullying typically decrease as adolescents gain verbal and cognitive
skills. Bullying, however, does not disappear, but rather becomes more subtle and difcult to detect, as in
the case of social bullying or cyberbullying, so the trends in traditional bullying most likely reect not only an
increased tendency for young children to bully peers, but also problems with self-identication, measuring
the degree of bullying and dening the boundaries of what is permitted. Therefore, it is not surprising that
the age trend for cyberbullying is exactly the opposite of what researchers have already found in traditional
bullying. Studies have shown that the participation of adolescents in cyberbullying tends to increase
with age. This difference may reect not only the accessibility of communication technologies during
adolescence, but also the difference in how the dynamics of the need for self-assertion are revealed. In
addition, the older adolescents are, the more willingly they report their participation in cyberbullying: 8%
in 7
grade, 12% in 8th and 9th grades, 23% in 10
and 11
Figure 3. Frequency of psychosomatic problems male and female respondents have as cyberbullying
Figure 4. Frequency of psychosomatic problems male and female respondents have as cyberbullying
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
Our study shows that cyberbullying and cybervictimization are the cause of a number of
psychological, social, somatic and behavioral problems and disorders. Victims often report symptoms of
depression, fear, social anxiety, and suicidal ideation. They tend to suffer from low self-esteem and have
negative image not only of themselves, but also of their peers, socialization in general and friendships
in particular. Bullying is also associated with external behavior disorder (e.g., deviant and delinquent
behavior), internalization of distress (e.g., depression, suicidal attempts etc.) In addition, victims of
bullying have a reduced ability to empathize, especially express emotional empathy, which may be caused
by frequent and non-random physical and socio-psychological bullying. Not surprisingly, new evidence
suggests that cyberbullying is associated with signicant stress and emotional discomfort. It turned out
that victims of the Internet aggression, regardless of gender and age, were 2.5 times more likely to
show depressive symptoms. Personal self-esteem also suffers, with 35% respondents reporting low self-
esteem. According to a schoolchildren’s survey, adolescent delinquent or deviant behavior, depressive
symptoms and suicidal attempts, addictions and chemical substance intake are directly associated with
cyberbullying. Moreover, as acts of bullying become more frequent, the aggravation and intensity of the
youth’s psychosocial, psychosomatic and behavioral deviations increase. This nding is consistent with
the data presented that the frequency of traditional bullying in school is associated with mental health
problems; to these we can add depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, alcohol and psychoactive
substances consumption, and suicidal behavior. In addition, the history of cyberbullying research is still
very young, so the important variables previously identied in traditional bullying (anxiety, self-esteem,
lack of empathy) are not yet sufciently explored in cyberbullying victims.
Modern adolescents are worried about many issues - rapid physiological growth, puberty,
professional self-determination, the desire to be happy in their personal life, and many others. Often,
adolescents are not aware of their goals and desires, and therefore, a feeling of anxiety, emptiness,
and fear of communication, hostility, and dissatisfaction with oneself may emerge (Mukhina, 2004).
Adolescence is becoming a key issue in terms of relationships with people around them.
Moreover, a developmental forecast is necessary for comprehending how violence in media causes
adolescents’ behavior, also for recommending how to prevent risks and cope with adjacent problems.
Not necessarily all aggressive children with antisocial behavior become violent when they grow up.
However, “recent studies showed that adolescents and adults with serious abuse problems often were
very aggressive and even abusive in their childhood” (Vorobieva, 2008, pp. 48). The best, though not the
only, predictor of aggressive behavior in adolescents and even adults is aggressive behavior in childhood.
Thus, anything that contributes to the aggressive behavior of young children is statistically a risk factor for
the formation of violent behavior in adults (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Cyberbullying and Violence Model
“Cyberbullying is a phenomenon in which people with certain psychological characteristics are
involved” (Glazman, 2009, pp. 159). It is customary to distinguish three roles in this process: an aggressor
(bully), a victim and observers (witnesses). Character traits of all participants of the process are: “a persecutor
is an impulsive person who wants to dominate, has leader’s skills, demonstrates aggression, does not feel
Makarova, E. A., & Makarova, E. L. (2023). Cyber-victimization and Its impact on Victim’s psychosomatic status, International
Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2), 231-245.
remorse or compassion for people” (Makarova, Makarova and Makhrina, 2016, pp. 293), family violence
can contribute greatly for aggressive behavior in adolescents with these character traits. The victims,
on the contrary, demonstrate shy, anxious disposition, they are prone to tears, uncommunicative, have
inferiority complex, feel dependence on circumstances and surrounding people. Various demographic
characteristics (Figure 6) such as gender, age, ethnicity, religion and income level can be predictors of
emotional maladjustment; a wide range of personality characteristics - from introversion to intelligence
level - can also be used to predict the behavior of victims of cyber-victimization. As for the observers, they
often feel fear, helplessness and at the same time they usually support the persecutor as they are afraid
of becoming a victim, so they take the side of the strongest, etc.
Figure 6. Elements of Cyberbullying Model
According to a meta-analysis of several studies, cyberbullying and victimization rates differ
depending on these phenomena denitions. Overall, most studies on cyberbullying show adolescent
prevalence and engagement rates between 10% and 40%, with 15% of the same adolescents being
cyber-victimized. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying poses particular challenges to prevention and
intervention due to Internet unique features such as “complete anonymity, rapid social dissemination,
and increased free access to a victim’s account” (Romera et al., 2017, pp. 1184). Thus, cyberbullying
experiences are invariably associated with a wide range of negative consequences. For example, young
people who experienced cyberbullying in childhood have signicantly higher rates of psychosomatic
problems (Beckman, Hagquist and Hellström, 2012), higher levels of depression symptoms (Nixon, 2014),
a higher level of anxiety (Sontag et al. 2011), lower self-esteem (O’Brie and Moules, 2013), and even
higher levels of suicidal thoughts and attempts (Gini and Espelage, 2014). In addition, the consequences
of cyber-victimization negatively affect the emotional state of victims and their ability to socially adapt
(Elipe et al., 2015). In particular, it has been noted that