One tell-tale sign of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is the heavy reliance on electronic devices. Young adults in particular have indicated a greater presence on social media and high levels of loneliness during the pandemic. This trend has raised concerns about increased feelings of social isolation and reliance on technology, which could lead to more internet or computer crimes—including cyberbullying. Despite a growing body of literature, little is known about the association between cyberbullying victimization and social isolation among young adults— with even less known about this phenomenon in the context of the ongoing pandemic. Drawing on survey responses from adults, this study explored the differences between cyberbullying victimization experiences before and during the pandemic, as well as the relationship between perceived social isolation and social media. The findings of the study suggest that the majority of participants felt more isolated, with most of the sample reporting increased social media use as a consequence of the pandemic; cyberbullying victimization significantly decreased during the pandemic; and perceived social isolation was moderately predictive of cyberbullying experiences during the pandemic when pre-pandemic experiences were omitted from the analysis. While the applied sampling method raises concerns about the study’s generalizability, the findings underline that higher education institutions should be vigilant in terms of increased perceived social isolation and cyberbullying victimization experiences during the pandemic.

Note on the Author(s)

Nadya Stefani Neuhaeusler is a research assistant with an MSc in criminology and criminal Justice from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She obtained a BA in educational science from the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen and has expertise in matters of victimization as a consequence of technology use, with a focus on fake news and cyberbullying.