Eating Disorder Risks Among Children Who Are Cyberbullied

Man using online screening IOI-S to check for signs of an eating disorder

With the rapidly changing landscape of technology, more children than ever are exposed to various media outlets, including the Internet and all the many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and more.

While there are seemingly benefits of allowing a child the opportunity to learn and be exposed to the different outlets available with technology, there also comes some risks that should be considered.

The Risk of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is at an all time high, with studies showing that over half of adolescents and teens having been bullied online [1]. Statistics have demonstrated that more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced some form of cyber threats online, with over 25 percent of teens and adolescents suffering recurring bullying through the Internet or Smartphone [1].

There are several forms of Cyberbullying that can take place, many that an adolescent may be unaware are occurring.  Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Posting threatening or hurtful messages on social networking sites or various web pages
  • Spreading rumors online or through text messages
  • Sexting or spreading sexually suggestive messages about a person
  • Stealing a person’s account information to send damaging messages
  • Sending threatening messages to a person’s cell phone or email
  • Posing a false identity to intentionally hurt another person
  • Taking unflattering pictures of a person and posting without permission, and so forth.

While acts of Cyberbullying may be done as joke, prank or unintended to cause harm, the effects can be debilitating to a teenager or adolescent. Some of the most common consequences that may result from suffering a Cyberbullying may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Development of eating disorders
  • Substance abuse, and increased suicide risk.

Teens and adolescents who may already have other risk factors for an eating disorder, such as biological susceptibility, may be especially vulnerable to Cyberbullying.

Awareness and Prevention

With the potential damaging effects of Cyberbullying, awareness is a key step toward prevention and intervention. As a parent or guardian of a teenager or adolescent, be sure to talk to your loved ones about what Cyberbullying is and ways they can protect themselves.Recoverying from a bully

Encouraging and scheduling intentional times that take a break from technology can also help establish healthier habits when it comes to Internet and technology.

If you suspect your child may have been the victim of Cyberbullying, be sure to proactively get involved and seek out the help of a professional, such as a counselor or therapist, to address potentially damaging concerns.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think are ways for parents to effectively monitor for cyberbullying in their children?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


[1]: Cyber Bullying Statistics, “Anti-Bullying Help, Facts, and More”,

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 12, 2017
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