Research Center Determines Most Teens Have Experienced Cyberbullying

(Washington, D.C.) – A new Pew Research Center survey finds more than half of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online.

59% of teens reported being the target of this kind of cyberbullying, according to the study released on Thursday, September 27th. Additionally, 63% of teens surveyed say this is a major problem for people their age. This is the Center’s third report in a series focused on teens and their relationship with technology.

According to the press release, the nationally representative surveys of U.S. teens and parents find that the most common type of harassment youth encounter online is name-calling. Some 42% of teens say they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphone, while 32% of teens say someone has spread false rumors about them on the internet. Small numbers of teens have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing (21%) or have been the target of physical threats online (16%).

The survey also finds that one-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while 7% say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. In a separate survey, researchers found that 57% of parents of teens say they worry about their teen receiving or sending explicit images, including about one-quarter who say this worries them a lot.

But, majorities of young people reportedly think teachers (58%), social media (66%), and politicians (79%) are doing only a fair or poor job at addressing online harassment. By contrast, teens have a more positive assessment of the way parents are addressing cyberbullying: 59% of teens say parents are doing a good or excellent job at addressing online harassment.

Among the findings

Teenage boys and girls are equally likely to experience cyberbullying (59% vs. 60%), yet teen girls are more likely to be the targets of rumor-spreading or nonconsensual explicit messages.

  • 39% of girls say they have experienced the spreading of false rumors, compared with 26% of boys.
  • 29% of girls say they have received explicit images they didn’t ask for, compared with 20% of boys.

Nine-in-ten parents of teens say they are at least somewhat confident they can teach their teen how to engage in appropriate online behavior.

  • 59% of parents say they are at least somewhat worried about their teen being harassed or bullied online.
  • 57% of parents say they are at least somewhat worried about their teen sending or receiving explicit messages.

The likelihood of teens facing abusive behaviors varies by how often teens go online.

  • 67% of teens whose say they are online almost constantly have been cyberbullied, compared with 53% of those who use the internet several times a day or less.
  • Half of teens who are near-constant internet users say they have been called offensive names online, compared with about a third (36%) who use the internet less frequently.

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