Cybervictimization and somatic and psychological symptoms among Italian middle school students

Eur J Public Health. 2015 Jun;25(3):433-7. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku191. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Background: Existing literature clearly documents the association between cybervictimization and psychological symptoms; less clear is the association between cybervictimization and somatic symptoms. This study aims to verify the association between cybervictimization and both psychological and somatic symptoms on a representative sample of Italian early adolescents.

Methods: This study used data from 24 099 students aged 13 years participating in the 2009/2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey. Self-completed questionnaires, devised by the HBSC international group, were administered in classrooms. Multilevel models of logistic regression (controlling for traditional bullying victimization, computer use and demographics) were used to investigate the association between cybervictimization and psychological and somatic symptoms.

Results: Overall, 3.1% of the students reported having been bullied frequently electronically and 8.7% occasionally (compared, respectively, to 4.0 and 9.2% victims of traditional forms of bullying). Overall, prevalence of students reporting psychological and somatic symptoms was 32.5 and 12.0%, respectively. Being victims of cyberbullying was positively associated to students' psychological and somatic symptoms, after controlling for traditional bullying victimization and computer use.

Conclusion: Cybervictimization has similar psychological and somatic consequences for boys and girls, thus suggesting that intervention and prevention efforts should focus on both gender groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Bullying / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires