The explosive growth of social media in recent years has enabled a lot of new opportunities for kids and teenagers — sharing achievements with family, making plans with new friends and reliving past memories with old friends, just to name a few.
But the proliferation of social networking has also come with an unfortunate downside. Bullying and nastiness become easier when all they take is a few keystrokes and can be hidden by online anonymity.
Cyberbullying isn’t new; a 2004 study found that 42% of kids had been bullied online — and that’s before Facebook, Twitter and other networks eclipsed MySpace and started a social revolution. With more and more kids maintaining online profiles and owning smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, the potential for abuse has multiplied.
Internet education portal OnlineCollege.org recently rounded up stats from a number of press and research outlets to compile the infographic below, looking at how connected young people are today and how prevalent cyberbullying has become. Among their more interesting findings: 90% of teens who witness cyberbullying online say they ignore it, just 40% tell their parents and 81% of kids say it’s easier to get away with bullying online than in person.
Online embarrassment can lead to real world harassment, too — and celebrities can become victims as well. “Friday” singer Rebecca Black said last fall that she was forced to quit middle school after ridicule following her viral video. But the Internet can also come to the rescue of real world bullying victims. After footage of a New York bus monitor being mercilessly taunted by middle schoolers went viral online, web users rallied to raise her a vacation fund that ended up totaling more than $600,000.