The new 2014 Teens and Screens study by McAfee that was released this week looks like a watershed moment in how we are dealing with the issue of cyberbullying – with one statistic that looks like a large negative, and one potentially significant positive.
The big negative is that in 2014, the number of teens and preteens who report having witnessed cyberbullying almost tripled from the 2013 result.
The potentially significant positive is that the way that we acknowledge and talk about cyberbullying may have taken a big step forward. More below, but first, the key statistics of the survey:
87% of teens and pre teens report having witnessed cyberbullying.
Of those who reported being victims of cyberbullying, the perceived reason for the harsh treatment:
- 72% said it was related to appearance
- 26% said it was related to race or religion
- 22% cited their sexuality
Those who witnessed cyberbullying reported that the victims:
- Became defensive or angry (53%)
- Deleted some or all of their social media accounts (47%)
How is this at all positive? Well first, we don’t believe for a second that the number of students who are cyberbullied really tripled over the last 12 months. That would be impossible. What is more likely is that as society talks more about cyberbullying – in the media, in schools and at home – kids are becoming more willing to admit that it is happening, and has very real negative consequences.
We have written about previous studies that included some rather disturbing results; the number of parents who know their child was cyberbullied outnumber parents who know that their child was guilty of cyberbullying 6 to 1, and only 41% of teens who are cyberbullied report the incident to an adult.
Also in the McAfee study, 24% of teens and pre teens say that if they are cyberbullied, they would not know what to do. If the overall survey results are on point that is about to change.
The first step in dealing with any problem is admitting that it is a problem. In years past, the study indicates that even if parents and schools thought cyberbullying was a serious problem, most kids weren’t treating it as such. If that has changed, it’s a good thing indeed, and we can get to work helping kids with the appropriate response and eventually making a serious dent in cyberbullying.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.