Systematic Review of Cyberbullying Interventions for Youth and Parents

Friday, 28 July 2017

Elizabeth N. Hutson, MS
Stephanie Kelly, PhD
Lisa K. Militello, PhD, MPH
College of Nursing, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Purpose: Cyberbullying is a relatively new risk factor for the well-being of pediatric populations in which research is growing worldwide. Consequences of cyberbullying include both physical and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and somatic concerns. Adolescents who have been victims of cyberbullying and consequently developed physical and mental health problems are often recommended to visit their pediatric or psychiatric provider to obtain effective, evidence-based treatment. To date, no interventions exist in the healthcare setting for adolescents who are victims of cyberbullying. The purpose of this project is to review interventional studies on cyberbullying that have components for adolescents who have been involved with cyberbullying and their parents and to provide recommendations on effective intervention components with the goal of guiding clinical practice.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted using the Institute of Medicine guidelines. A comprehensive electronic literature search was completed targeting interventions of cyberbullying in any setting. As cyberbullying is a new phenomenon, no date limits were used. Literature was searched in MEDLINE, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, Communication and Mass Media Complete, Education Information Resource Center (ERIC) and PsycINFO databases. The following search terms were applied “cyberbullying” + “intervention” or “treatment” or “therapy” or “program”. Only articles with a pediatric population of 18 and younger were selected for review.

Results: Sixteen cyberbullying intervention programs in 23 articles were found to meet the search criteria. A globally representative sample was found with intervention programs from 11 countries across four continents. The most frequently used components included coping skills, education on cyberbullying for the adolescent and their parents, and digital citizenship. Past systematic reviews on this topic have focused on interventions in the school setting. To date, no interventions exist in the healthcare setting for adolescents who are victims of cyberbullying. No studies examined specific interventions that can be utilized by individual adolescents and their parents dealing with cyberbullying.

Conclusion: As more youth present for with symptoms related to cyberbullying, effective interventions are needed to guide evidence-based practice. Since cyberbullying is a global phenomenon with both short and long-term negative consequences, evidence-based clinical guidelines are urgently needed.