A survey of German youth found victims of cyberbullying were most distressed by embarrassing personal photos and videos because they were easily shared.
Researchers Peter Sitzer and Julia Marth at Bielefeld University in Germany and their team at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence surveyed 1,881 German schoolchildren.
They discovered that children who are the targets of cyberbullying find some forms more distressful than others. For instance, more than half of the victims considered the posting of personal photos and videos distressful if it was aimed at humiliating them or making them the object of ridicule.
Photos and videos were considered the most hurtful because they could be duplicated and distributed any number of times, and thus made available to a potentially unlimited audience, the study found.
In contrast, derisive, insulting, abusive and threatening behavior was perceived as distressful or severely distressful only by about 25 percent of the respondents.
"This might be because this form of cyberbullying can be aimed directly at the victim. In this case, there are relatively few witnesses," Sitzer said.
The researchers define cyberbullying as attacks by one or more persons via the Internet or by cellphone, using Web sites such as Facebook or an instant messenger, to denigrate or humiliate someone or harm social relationships.