Paseo de la Castellana 163. 28046 Madrid, Spain.
Background: Cyber bullying has become a focus of attention as having significant negative impacts on adolescents’ mental health. Victims of cyber bullying tend to have an external locus of control (ELOC). They are typically counseled not to respond to the bully. This can lead to a sense of helplessness and resignation, and reinforcement of their view of themselves as helpless to control their environment. There is a need for a more efficacious approach.
Methods: In this paper, we analyze the main strategies of coping with cyberbullying. We illustrate the difference between the active and the passive ways of avoidance by bringing up the concepts of “internal locus of control” and “external locus of control”. We describe how cyberbullying seems to be particularly suitable for developing or strengthening an internal locus of control. Finally, we propose the use of cognitive restructuring to encourage the internalization of the cyber victim’s locus of control.
Results: Victims can be made to understand that choosing not to respond is actually taking an active role which denyies the bully the satisfaction of seeing the results of his or her behavior. Cognitive restructuring can transform the way in which the victim’s response is understood.
Conclusions: Incorporating cognitive restructuring into individual therapy with adolescents could be helpful in promoting an internal locus of control among adolescent victims of cyber bullying.