The relationship among cyberbullying victimization, lower self-esteem, and internet addiction has been well-established. Yet, little research exists that explains the nature of these associations, and no previous work has considered the inability to identify or describe one’s emotions, namely, alexithymia, as a potential mediator of these links. The present study sought to investigate the indirect effects of cyberbullying victimization on self-esteem and internet addiction, mediated by alexithymia. The sample consisted of 1,442 participants between 12 and 17 years (Mage = 14.17, SD = 1.38, 51.5% male) from Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Results showed a direct relationship between cyberbullying victimization and self-esteem and an indirect association mediated by alexithymia in the Dutch sample. However, in the German and U.S. samples, only an indirect relationship via alexithymia, but not a direct effect of cyberbullying victimization on self-esteem, was found. Consistent across the three country samples, cyberbullying victimization and internet addiction were directly and also indirectly associated via alexithymia. In sum, findings indicate that alexithymia might help better understand which detrimental effects cyberbullying victimization has on adolescent psychological health. Thus, cyberbullying prevention programs should consider implementing elements that educate adolescents on the ability to identify and describe their own emotions.

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Published in Frontiers in Psychology, v. 11, article 1368.

Copyright © 2020 Wachs, Vazsonyi, Wright and Ksinan Jiskrova.

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We acknowledge the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and Open Access Publishing Fund of University of Potsdam.

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The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation, to any qualified researcher.