Clinical psychologist Jamie Howard recalls talking to a mother recently who noticed her daughter was staying in her bedroom and crying often. The teen finally revealed that all her friends formed a separate group chat without her and had become anxious about why they excluded her and what they were saying behind her back.
“We had her strengthen other friendships and make new friends to rebuild her self-esteem and remind her that she’s very likable,” says Howard, who specializes in anxiety and mood disorders at the Child Mind Institute. “We got her doing more dance, walking her dog—more activity that naturally brings about self-confidence.”
Howard’s case isn’t unusual. According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 33 percent of middle school and 30 percent of high school students have experienced cyberbullying. One study by L1GHT analyzed millions of websites and social platforms in 2020. They found a 70 percent increase in bullying and abusive language among kids and teens on social media and chat forums, a 40 percent increase in toxicity on gaming platforms, and a 200 percent spike in traffic to hate sites.