The American Academy of Pediatrics calls cyberbullying the “most common online risk for all teens.” Parents need to know the facts about cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about or to another person.
Types of Bullying Online
According to the Internet Safety 101 curriculum, there are many types of cyberbullying:
- Gossip: Posting or sending cruel gossip to damage a person’s reputation and relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances.
- Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online group.
- Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s e-mail or other online account and sending messages that will cause embarrassment or damage to the person’s reputation and affect his or her relationship with others.
- Harassment: Repeatedly posting or sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages.
- Cyberstalking: Posting or sending unwanted or intimidating messages, which may include threats.
- Flaming: Online fights where scornful and offensive messages are posted on websites, forums, or blogs.
- Outing and Trickery: Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, which is then shared online.
- Cyberthreats: Remarks on the Internet threatening or implying violent behavior, displaying suicidal tendencies.
Facts About Cyberbullying
- 32% of online teens say they have been targets of a range of annoying or potentially menacing online activities. 15% of teens overall say someone has forwarded or posted a private message they’ve written, 13% say someone has spread a rumor about them online, 13% say someone has sent them a threatening or aggressive message, and 6% say someone has posted embarrassing pictures of them online.
- 38% of online girls report being bullied, compared with 26% of online boys. In particular, 41% of older girls (15-17) report being bullied—more than any other age or gender group.
- 39% of social network users have been cyberbullied in some way, compared with 22% of online teens who do not use social networks.
- 20% of teens (12-17) say “people are mostly unkind” on online social networks. Younger teenage girls (12-13) are considerably more likely to say this. One in three (33%) younger teen girls who use social media say that people their age are “mostly unkind” to one another on social network sites.
- 15% of teens on social networks have experienced someone being mean or cruel to them on a social network site. There are no statistically significant differences by age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, or any other demographic characteristic.
- 13% of teens who use social media (12-17) say they have had an experience on a social network that made them feel nervous about going to school the next day. This is more common among younger teens (20%) than older teens (11%).
- 88% of social media-using teens say they have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network site. 12% of these say they witness this kind of behavior “frequently.”
- When teens see others being mean or cruel on social networks, frequently 55% see other people just ignoring what is going on, 27% see others defending the victim, 20% see others telling the offender to stop, and 19% see others join in on the harassment.
- 36% of teens who have witnessed others being cruel on social networks have looked to someone for advice about what to do.
- 67% of all teens say bullying and harassment happens more offline than online.
- 1 in 6 parents know their child has been bullied over social media. In over half of these cases, their child was a repeat victim. Over half of parents whose children have social media accounts are concerned about cyberbullying and more than three-quarters of parents have discussed the issue of online bullying with their children.
- 11% of middle school students were victims of cyberbullying in the past two months. Girls are more likely than boys to be victims or bully/victims.
- “Hyper-networking” teens (those who spend more than three hours per school day on online social networks) are 110% more likely to be a victim of cyberbullying, compared to those who don’t spend as much time on social networks.
Anti Bullying Campaigns and Programs
- The Great American NO BULL Challenge
- Internet Safety 101
- Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
- Stomp Out Bullying
- Delete Digital Drama
Effects of Bullying
“While bullying through physical intimidation has long been a problem among teenagers, cyberbullying by using computers and smart phones to send rumors or post cruel messages has become more prevalent in recent years,” explains Dr. Jennifer Caudle. “Even though there might not be physical injuries, cyberbullying leaves deep emotional scars on the victim.”
Warning signs of being cyberbullied can include:
- appearing sad, moody, or anxious
- avoiding school
- withdrawing from social activities
- experiencing a drop in grades
- appearing upset after using the computer
- appearing upset after viewing a text message
In extreme cases, physical bullying and online bullying can drive a child or teen to deep depression and even suicide (sometimes called “bullycide”). Since 1983, over 150 children have taken their own lives due, in part, to the extreme pressure of being bullied.
When it comes to suicides related to cyberbullying, some names have made national headlines in recent years. Ryan Halligan (2003) may be the earliest known case of suicide provoked by Internet taunts, but unfortunately many others have followed: Jeffrey Johnston (2005), Kristina Calco (2006), Rachael Neblett (2006), Megan Meier (2006), Jesse Logan (2008), Alexa Berman (2008), Michael Joseph Berry (2008), Iain Steele (2009), Hope Wittsell (2009), Tyler Clementi (2010), Ashley Rogers (2010), Alexis Skye Pilkington (2010), Phoebe Prince (2010), and Amanda Cummings (2011).
- The documentary, Submit* – the virtual reality of cyberbullying
- CBS’s 48 Hours special presentation, Bullying: Words Can Kill
- PBS’s Frontline report, Growing Up Online
- A clip from Enough is Enough, Cyberbullying 101
- Security Spotlight’s Cyberbullying Safety