Facts About Cyberbullying and How You Can Help
Technological advances have meant many changes in everyday interaction—from cell phones to social media, the world wide web provides up-to-date access to what’s happening around us. For teens, this access to the personal lives of peers, when combined with the anonymity of the Internet, is a recipe for an unregulated slew of cyberbullying behaviors.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a type of harassment involving a communication device, such as a computer, tablet, and/or smartphone. Our research examines three popular types of cyberbullying that youth, ages 13 to 18, experience. Thirty-four percent of teens have posted embarrassing pictures and/or videos about someone on a social networking site, such as Facebook. Twenty-seven percent admitted to sending nasty messages to or about someone—including spreading rumors, name-calling, and gossiping—via the Internet or text messages, and about 12 percent of teens surveyed confessed they’d created a mean website targeting a peer. For example, a teen may post photos of kids from school on a website, and have peers vote for the “fattest” or “ugliest” at school.
Why Do Teens Cyberbully?
We found four main factors that contribute to cyberbullying.
- Proactive reasons. Some teens turn to cyberbullying because they want something—such as lunch money, or a seat at the “popular” table. These kids also target their peers online to demonstrate power or strength over someone else. Proactive bullies don’t have any qualms about deliberately hurting someone else to elevate their social status.
- Reactive reasons. Sometimes, victims become perpetrators because they believe they’ve been wronged by someone—and feel the need to retaliate. For example, a teen may post a mean message on their “ex-friend’s” Facebook wall if the teen suspects the victim said something mean—to or about—the bully first. This is the most common type of cyberbullying, with 61 percent of teens owning up bullying as a reaction to a previous slight by a peer.
- Internet junkies. Teens who are constantly plugged into the World Wide Web are more likely to take part in cyberbullying than their less technologically inclined peers.
- Privacy. Having a personal computer—either in a bedroom or secluded corner of the house—also increased the likelihood that an adolescent bullied others online.
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