Cyberbullies target one-third of teenage Internet users

One in three teenagers say they have been cyberbullied on the internet

Nearly one in three teenagers who use the Internet say they have been harassed online by "cyberbullies" who spread rumors, post embarrassing pictures, make private conversations public and even send threatening messages.

"Bullying has entered the digital age," the Pew Internet & American Life Project stated this week in a report based on a telephone poll of 935 kids, ages 12 to 17.

Adolescent cruelty has moved from the whispers and shouts of the schoolyard to the online world, where teens often feel insulated from the consequences of their actions, kids reported in focus groups conducted in addition to the poll.

One 15-year-old boy admitted threatening to kill a girl in an electronic message.

"I played a prank on someone but it wasn't serious," the boy told researchers. "I told them I was going to come take them from their house and kill them and throw them in the woods. It's the best prank because it's like 'Oh my God, I'm calling the police,' and I was like 'I'm just kidding, I was just messing with you.' She got so scared though."

Girls reported being bullied online more often than boys, with girls aged 15 to 17 being the most common targets.

Fifteen percent of teenagers who use the Internet said their private e-mail, instant messages or text messages have been forwarded to others or posted to public sites without their permission. Thirteen percent said rumors have been spread about them online, and another 13 percent have received threatening or aggressive e-mails, IMs or text messages. Six percent said cyberbullies have posted embarrassing pictures of them online.

Overall, 32 percent of teens online said they have been targeted by at least one of these annoying and potentially menacing forms of bullying. Still, teens reported that bullying was more common in real-world interactions than on the Internet.

In focus groups with Pew researchers, teens said they have to be increasingly careful about what they say because it could be posted on a blog or Web site. One middle school girl said, "I was in a fight with a girl and she printed out our conversation, [changed] some things that I said, and brought it into school, so I looked like a terrible person."

One girl reported an attack targeted at a gay male.

"I have this one friend, and he's gay and his account got hacked," the girl told Pew researchers. "Someone put all these really homophobic stuff on there and posted like a mass bulletin of like some guy with his head smashed open like run over by a car. It was really gruesome and disgusting."

Though bullying appears to be most common offline, Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart concluded that the effects of bullying are magnified by the distributed nature of the Internet. Ninety-three percent of the teens polled said they use the Web.

"The impulses behind it are the same, but the effect is magnified," Lenhart writes. "In the past, the materials of bullying would have been whispered, shouted or passed around. Now, with a few clicks, a photo, video or a conversation can be shared with hundreds via e-mail or millions through a Web site, online profile or blog posting."

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonprofit research center that examines the social impact of the Internet.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?