Last year’s “Digital Abuse Survey” includes many interesting statistics about the way youth understand and experience online life. Below are seven facts parents should know.
1. Few young people would ask a bully to stop being mean online.
Only 17% of young people would be “very likely” to ask someone to stop being mean to someone else on a social network if they saw it happen.
2. Young people are bullied online through the spreading of rumors.
- 26% have had something written about them on an Internet page that wasn’t true. More than half of these knew the perpetrator well.
- 21% have had untrue rumors spread about them over e-mail, IM, or text messages. Nearly two-thirds of these young people knew the perpetrator well.
3. Young people are bullied online by the spread of embarrassing photos or videos.
- 16% have had embarrassing photos or videos of themselves posted online without their permission. Three-quarters of these knew the perpetrator well.
- 9% have been videotaped or photographed doing something embarrassing without their permission or knowledge, and then those embarrassing photos or videos shared with others.
4. Young people are bullied online through mean-spirited words or cruel jokes.
- 24% have had something written about them on the Internet that was very mean.
- 11% have been contacted via social network, text, or IM by someone who said they were interested in dating them, only later to be told they were just pretending.
5. Young people are bullied online through physical threats.
12% have been threatened physical harm over IM, text, or a social network.
6. Young people are bullied online via blackmail.
9% have been told someone would post or send private things about them to other people if that person didn’t do what was demanded of them. Of these, 70% knew the perpetrator well.
7. Mean words, rumors, and impersonations are very upsetting forms of cyberbullying for most teens.
For those who have been the target of digital abuse, the majority become very upset when…
- Someone writes something about them on an Internet page that is really mean (53% were very or extremely upset)
- Someone used the Internet or text messages to spread rumors about them that weren’t true (56% were very or extremely upset)
- Someone impersonates them by creating a fake Facebook/MySpace profile for them (66% were very or extremely upset)
Bullying is no laughing matter.
Cyberbullying is just one of several online dangers.
“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).