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Romance Scam Research Center

2022: IN: Cyber victimization during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A syndemic looming large

Shoib S, Philip S, Bista S, Saeed F, Javed S, Ori D, Bashir A, Chandradasa M. Cyber victimization during the COVID-19 pandemic: A syndemic looming large. Health Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 17;5(2):e528. doi: 10.1002/hsr2.528. PMID: 35224224; PMCID: PMC8851571.

Abstract: "Many turned to the internet, social networks, online dating for companionship, and online gaming and streaming for entertainment. [...]online platforms such as online gaming or dating even medical services reported an increase in rate of users. [...]authorities issued alerts regarding organized rackets engaging in cyber fraud, romance scams, financial scams, “doxing,” “phishing,” and many other nefarious activities. 4 Cyber victimization also includes being at the receiving end of hurtful online activities such as harassing messages and disparaging comments and/or humiliating pictures 9,10; worst of these being threatened, intimated, and blackmailed. 11 Throughout, the authors refer to cyber victimization as a larger paradigm of being victimized while cyberbullying refers to the perpetration of aggressive and hurtful online activities. Contrary to popular understanding, being a cyber-victim is just as severe, if not more, as in the face-to-face world. 11 Myriad implications exist for victims' mental health, including, but not limited to, anxiety, panic symptoms, distress, trauma symptoms, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, reduced self-esteem, feelings of isolation, fear of socialization, suicidal ideation, self-harm, somatic symptoms like headaches, stomach-aches, changes in sleep, appetite, psychoactive substance use, and interpersonal difficulties. 11,12 These adverse impacts on mental health must be contextualized in the background of limited mental health care access, remote avenues of support from peers, and social networks during this pandemic."

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