Bullying has been amplified with technology. Teens today are digitally connected with their peers nearly 24 hours a day. If a cruel comment or mean meme is posted about them, the emotional pain is magnified by a million as they feel the whole world is reading it. Most will continuously check-in to count the likes and continue reading vicious comments.
Research from the think tank Demos found that boys are significantly more likely to have bullied someone online than girls, but young people with “stronger traits of empathy and self-control” are less likely to cyberbully.
Demos surveyed 16- to 18-year-olds over Facebook on their online behavior and responses to various social media scenarios.
The survey reported a “shockingly high incidence of hostile behavior to peers,” with 26 percent of those surveyed admitting to having “bullied or insulted someone else” online.
Fifteen percent of the teens surveyed said they "joined in with other people to 'troll' a celebrity or public figure."
Demos found that boys are significantly more likely to say they have bullied or insulted someone online than girls, with 32 percent of boys saying they have, compared to 22 percent of girls.
Interestingly, the same applies for trolling a public figure, which 22 percent of boys but 10 percent of girls admitted they had done.
The Demos' focus groups found that the teens were drawn into cyberbullying situations by witnessing their friends being bullied or insulted online and felt compelled to respond aggressively.
Sadly, 93 percent of those who said they had insulted or bullied someone else online said that they had themselves experienced some form of cyberbullying or abuse.
Young people rely on friends more than adults, according to studies, when they are being harassed online.
This is where parents need to do a better job at connecting offline with their teenager about their online life. Many teen's fear that their parent will take away their digital device or possibly judge or blame them for their online issues. With open lines of communication you can constantly remind them that no matter what, you are always there for them. Understanding that the cyber-world can be a difficult one at times. After all, not everyone is who they pretend to be online.
Social media savvy police office, Mike Bires frequently speaks with parents and schools about online safety and reporting cyberbullying including sextortion.
Officer Bires reminds parents:
Officer Bires's advice for youth: