Is Cyberbullying on the Decline?

We are skeptical, but perhaps cyberbullying is on the decline. What do the numbers say?

A survey conducted by MTV and the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this year asked teens and young adults about digital abuse and compared the 2013 data versus a similar study conducted in 2011. The study revealed the following highlights:

  • 49% of respondents reported being the victim of cyberbullying in 2013, vs. 56% in 2011
  • 72% of respondents assert that cyberbullying is a serious problem for society

If cyberbullying is on the decline, does it mean that current efforts, including stepped up cyberbullying laws, in-school educational programs and the increased presence of anti-bullying groups is making significant headway?  Let’s take a look at what Google has to say. According to the chart from Google Trends below, the frequency of the term “cyberbullying” appearing in a Google searches has been steadily increasing since the beginning of 2009.

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It could be that despite the (possible) decline of cyberbullying, adults have chosen to be more focused on it. It could be that teens are less likely to admit it, or are less likely to call abuse cyberbullying, being more resigned to the fact that some level of abuse needs to be accepted online, especially in social media, in order to be part of the crowd.

We don’t mean to make a bigger deal of cyberbullying than it actually is, and hope that given the resources that we as a society have devoted to anti-bullying efforts, it actually is in decline. The level of interest in cyberbullying doesn’t appear to be, which could also be a good thing.


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