Canadian Survey Weighs Cyberbullying on Social Media

Unsurprising conclusion: The more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to be harassed by another user.

That is just one takeaway from a new survey of social media users by the Angus Reid Institute in Canada. Canadians generally have the reputation of being kindler and gentler than those of us on this side of the border, but the results of the survey show that cyberbullying trends are similar in both countries.

The survey polled 1,530 adults aged 18 and up. Of the group, 89% were users of social media in varying degrees, and that number is 98% for the 18 – 34 year old respondents. Percentage of respondents who use the following social networks at least a couple of times per week:

  • Facebook – 69%
  • Twitter – 17%
  • Instagram – 15%
  • Snapchat – 10%
  • LinkedIn – 8%
  • Tumblr – 5%
  • Other – 11%

When the survey looks at the frequency of social media use, they grouped respondents into the following categories:

  • 18% are Super Users who use multiple networks, multiple times per day
  • 42% are Frequent Users who use social media every day
  • 16% are Regular Users who use social media at least once per week
  • 11% are Light Users who are mostly on Facebook, but don’t use it very often
  • 15% don’t currently use social media, but some of those did but have quit

When looking at the responses of all who do use social networks, 31% claim that they have been cyberbullied on social media. Of the Super Users, fully 50% have experienced harassment online.

It’s pretty clear from the results that the more time you spend online, the more likely you are to experience harassment.

When considering the age of the respondents, as you might expect younger users tend to be a rougher crowd. 44% of the 18 – 34 year old cohort report having been harassed online at some point.

What does this mean for parents? Well, teens younger than 18 were not included in the survey, but two factors – age and time spent online – seem to correlate highly with the incidence on online abuse. If your teens are like mine, they are young by definition and tend to spend A LOT of time online.

As a parent, if your teen or tween hasn’t been harassed online yet, you should be prepared for the chance that she might be. There is no better preparation for this than talking about it today.

Establish an action plan for how she will respond when it happens, and that she should come to you for help is she is unsure of what to do. You can also review what options are available for dealing with abusers on each social network.

Incidentally, when asked how well social media companies are dealing with abusive users, 53% say that the networks are not doing enough to prevent the bad actors from cyberbullying, or doing something about it when it is reported.

Check back later this week for Part 2, where we look at what types of cyberbullying the survey found to be common online.




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