Whether we like it or not, bullying has been around since the beginning of civilization. It hasn’t truly changed its form over those years, it’s always the stronger ones who prey upon the weak, but it has evolved with the rise of technology.
A new form of bullying, namely cyberbullying, has become a growing problem in countries around the world. In its essence, cyberbullying doesn’t differ much from the type of bullying that many children have unfortunately grown accustomed to in school. The only difference is that it takes place online.
The following are a number of concerning statistics about cyberbullying that show the scope of this rising problem and the dire need for an effective solution.
What counts as cyberbullying?
If you’ve ever seen the TV host Jimmy Kimmel’s segment “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” you might have an idea of what it means to cyberbully someone. Although this segment is humorous, the reality of the situation is very different.
Cyberbullying is any type of harassing, threatening, demeaning, or embarrassing another person online. Typically, this is done through mean comments, online rumors, and even sexual remarks. They’re usually connected with appearances, intelligence, race, sexuality, etc.
Essentially, anything that is posted online that’s intended to hurt or upset someone else, regardless of what the topic is, is considered to be cyberbullying.
The most common types of online harassment, according to US students, are:
64% of victims who receive an aggressive instant message say they know the perpetrator from in-person situations.
Nearly 1 in 6 (15%) of online teens said they had experienced unwanted forwarding of private communication. Older teens (ages 15-17) say they are more likely to have had someone forward or publicly post private messages – 18% of older teens have experienced this, compared with 11% of younger teens.
Teens who report being bullied say it was because of their:
Bullies often ridicule disabilities and mental problems like autism (75%), physical defects (70%), and learning problems (52%).
Girls are more likely to report someone spreading rumors about them than boys, with 16% of girls reporting rumor-spreading compared with 9% of boys.
Share of adult internet users in the United States who have personally experienced online harassment. 53% of internet users had personally experienced any kind of online harassment with 37% of respondents reporting to have experienced severe forms of online harassment such as physical threats, sexual harassment, stalking and sustained harassment. Furthermore, 56% of responding to online harassment victims reported that they had been harassed on Facebook.
Who is prone to cyberbullying?
While cyberbullying is mostly associated with school children, they aren’t the only targets, and many adults experience cyberbullying themselves.
The most common target for cyber bullies are children, young adults (especially girls), students, and members of the LGBTQ community.
As far as the bullies themselves are concerned, they come from all walks of life. Studies show that children with less involved parents and those suffering from depression or anxiety tend to display bullying behavior, but nothing’s conclusive as of yet.
Recent statistics show steady growth in cyberbullying. A 2007 Pew Research study found 32 percent of teens have been victims of some type of cyberbullying. Nearly a decade later, a 2016 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center found those numbers were almost unchanged. By 2019, just under 43 percent of teens reported they were victims of cyberbullying. Young children, women, and people with a non-traditional sexual orientation are the most common targets for online bullies.
7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying in some form before they hit the age of 18.
According to statistics, about 37% of children and teens between 12 and 17 years experienced cyberbullying at least once, with about 30% being targeted more than once. Worryingly, although about 60% of young people were witnesses to such incidents, most would not intervene.
Girls are more likely than boys to be both victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying. 15% of teen girls have been the target of at least four different kinds of abusive online behaviors, compared with 6% of boys. Older girls, in particular, are more likely to report being bullied than any other age and gender group, with 41% of online girls ages 15 to 17 reporting these experiences.
According to a decade-long Florida Atlantic University study of 20,000 middle and high school students, 70% of students said that someone spread rumors about them online.
More than one in 10 students (12%) admitted to cyberbullying someone else at least once.
12.42% of LGBT youth have experienced cyberbullying.
Where are people cyberbullied?
There isn’t a single platform where all the cyberbullying takes place, and no online space is completely free of cyberbullying. Since most children and young adults access the internet via their mobile devices, this is the most common medium through which they experience this type of harassment.
Statistics show that Instagram is the most common platform for cyberbullying, closely followed by Facebook and Snapchat. Many people experience cyberbullying while playing online multiplayer games as well, and while YouTube is among the platforms with the highest number of users, only a tenth of users have so far reported experiencing cyberbullying there.
95% of teens in the U.S. are online, and the vast majority access the internet on their mobile device, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
More youths experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform at 42%, with Facebook following close behind at 37%. Snapchat ranked third at 31%. While the survey participants use YouTube more than any other platform, the video-focused social media was only responsible for 10% of the reported cyber bullying.
Internet trolls are most active on social media. 38% observe trolling behavior on such platforms, while 23% have seen them frequently “operate” on video sharing websites.
Victim stats suggest women are most vulnerable on Facebook (57%). Other high-risk social platforms are Facebook Messenger (23%) and Instagram (10%).
Respondents with children who play online games reported a higher rate of cyberbullying attacks than those whose kids engage in only standard browsing activities.
What types of games do online bullies fancy most? Cyberbullying statistics put the MMORPGs on top of the list with 26.8%, closely followed by shooters and sports games.
With over 500 million blogs on the internet, it’s no wonder that blogs are, in fact, one of the most popular targets for cyberbullies. While the comment section is usually reserved for discussions and questions for the author, you’ll notice hateful and hurtful comments sometimes tend to be prevalent. The victim of blogging bullying isn’t only the author, but many commenters as well.
The other side of blogging bullying is when the author of the blog themself posts hateful content that’s intended to embarrass, insult, or otherwise upset someone else. While this is the most prevalent among school children and students, it’s very common among adults as well.
Impacts of cyberbullying
Bullying as a whole has a huge impact on the victim’s mental wellbeing and their overall quality of life, and cyberbullying is no different. As a matter of fact, some studies suggest that bullies tend to be more aggressive online as there are rarely any real-world consequences of their actions, so the impact on the victims could potentially be even greater.
Victims of cyberbullying often experience much lower self-esteem, greater social anxiety, depression, and many experience suicidal thoughts as well.
Cyberbullying can be a cause of alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, poor school performance, and more. All this serves to show how harmful cyberbullying is and how important it is to put a stop to it.
Research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting revealed the number of children admitted to hospitals for attempted suicide or expressing suicidal thoughts doubled between 2008 and 2015. More teen suicides are also now attributed in some way to cyberbullying than ever before.
Cyberbullying can have serious impacts on the self-esteem and mental health of people who experience it:
It appears bullying has effects beyond self-harm. Javelin Research finds that children who are bullied are 9 times more likely to be the victims of identity fraud as well.
This statistic presents data on the psychological impact of women experiencing online abuse or harassment worldwide. 66 percent of survey respondents who have experienced online abuse stated that they felt a feeling of powerlessness in their ability to respond to abuse or harassment online. A total of 63% of online harassment victims also reported to not being able to sleep well.
Cyberbullying around the World
Cyberbullying isn’t a problem solely in the United States. It’s actually a global issue. The top 3 countries where cyberbullying is the most prevalent are India, Brazil, and the United States, but this is a common occurrence everywhere. Over 65% of parents around the world cite cyberbullying on social media as one of their greatest fears.
While many countries are trying to impose anti-bullying laws, an effective preventative measure still hasn’t been discovered, and residents of many countries aren’t satisfied with how bullying is being tackled.
On the bright side, cyberbullying awareness is at an all-time high, meaning that the governments around the world will have to take measures to prevent it.
One in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence, in a new poll released by UNICEF and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children.
Alarming facts about cyberbullying in Asian countries — a survey among 3000 students reveal 48.4% have had embarrassing videos of them posted online and 47.3% have been a victim of hate speech.
Over 20,000 parents participated in a worldwide research about high-risk online platforms. 65% single out cyberbullying on social media as their biggest fear. Other common threats include text messaging (38%) and chat rooms (34%).
Percentage of parents throughout the world that report their child has been a victim of cyberbullying:
People from Europe and South America are generally dissatisfied with the current cyberbullying measurements.
Cyberbullying statistics among 28 surveyed countries reveal general dissatisfaction with how bullying is tackled, even in places with active anti-bullying laws. Only 13% of Serbians and 15% of Chileans express satisfaction. On the other end of the spectrum, Russians and Chinese are content with the current state, with 37% and 41% respectively.
Global cyberbullying awareness is at 75%. Sweden and Italy are leading the chart with 91% awareness.
Reactions to cyberbullying
While most people are aware of cyberbullying, few know how to deal with it. Those who are witnesses to it rarely react, mostly because they cannot be anonymous. Parents are often not aware that their child is being cyberbullied because most children believe this to be a normal occurrence and don’t want to let their parents know.
Most children attempt to stop cyberbullying by blocking the bullies on social media platforms, and so far, this seems to be their best option.
Luckily, 48 states in the US have introduced electronic harassment laws, and 44 of them include criminal sanctions for cyberbullying.
Google Trends data indicates much more attention is focused on cyberbullying than ever before. The volume of searches for “cyberbullying” increased threefold since 2004:
The website Nobullying.com recorded over 9.3 million visits in 2016 from people seeking help with bullying, cyberbullying and online safety.
The number of US states with state cyberbullying laws, by policy implementation. As of November 2018, 48 states had electronic harassment laws that explicitly included cyberbullying. A total of 44 states included criminal sanctions in their cyberbullying laws.
83% of young people believe social media companies should be doing more to tackle cyberbullying on their platforms.
Parents say they do talk to their children about cyberbullying. As with nearly everything touchy topic, open dialogue with kids is the first step in helping them be prepared for it.
Frequency of talking about internet and online behavior between parents and children:
4 out of 5 students (81%) say they would be more likely to intervene in instances of cyberbullying if they could do it anonymously.
Parents want to be involved in helping to prevent and solve cyberbullying, but don’t know how. The study also found teens often believe cyberbullying is normal and don’t want parents to intervene.
Children are also increasingly aware of the dangers of cyberbullying. 68% of US respondents confirm they are sharing less personal information online than before.
Over 70% of teens say that blocking the account of the perpetrator was the most effective method for internet safety.
While the above-mentioned statistics and studies are frightening, there is a silver lining to the growing problem of cyberbullying. Governments around the world are trying to control and prevent cyberbullying, the global awareness of the problem is on the rise, and many social media platforms are attempting to put a stop to cyberbullying as well.
As a final note, it’s important to teach the children about what cyberbullying is, what its impacts are, and how it can be prevented. As always, education is the only true solution.