Cyberbullying and body image | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Cyberbullying and body image

Body image cyberbullying: What is going on in young brains?

We’re working with young people to understand how witnessing body image cyberbullying affects the brain.

Through this understanding we hope to share knowledge that can inform young people’s decisions about their use of social media and guide the development of cyberbullying programs.

About our research

We recently finished data collection and analysis for a validation study in which young people helped us develop a series of body image cyberbullying scenarios that can be used in our future investigations.

We’re now preparing for the next research phase, which is to use neuroimaging to investigate how the brain responds to viewing these body image cyberbullying scenarios.

Why this research is important

Cyberbullying is everywhere today and body image is the most commonly reported reason for cyberbullying. Negative body image, such as body dissatisfaction or dysmorphia, are leading risk factors for mental health concerns such as eating disorders. However, little is known about how the brain responds to body image cyberbullying, or how these responses may change depending on personal experiences. For the brain, adolescence is one of its most dynamic phases, as there are significant changes in the structure and functioning of the brain as it becomes more and more efficient. It is unclear how today’s social media landscape and cyberbullying effects the adolescent brain through this developmental phase.

Research papers to date

Systematic review published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research

Woman on her mobile phone