Statistics and a Snapshot of Cyberbullying Trends
Parry Aftab visited schools around the U.S., asking students if they had been cyberbullied. Instead of asking it that way, though, she outlined the kinds of activities that constitute cyberbullying and asked if they had happened to any of the students attending the presentation. She spoke to more than 45,000 middle schoolers while taking the poll. No matter where she went in the U.S., she never found fewer than 85% of the students admitting that they had been cyberbullied at least once. In Canada, 100% of the students at an exclusive boarding school admitted to having been cyberbullied. (Although she has never tracked boarding schools, she believes this may be the nature of a boarding school resident program, when students live and learn together and have fewer outlets for their boredom.)
To understand how pervasive cyberbullying is, check out our list of the kinds of things that constitute cyberbullying. If you don’t know how students define it, you will never get to the solutions. It’s a matter of speaking their language. (Don’t be tempted to use text or chat lingo terms if the students are in eighth grade or older. It’s something used by younger students, except as shorthand for texting.)
Parry was at a high school in New York recently and asked the students to list various ways they cyberbully each other. One young man, a leader in his class and a great kid, offered that a student would grab an unattended cellphone and reprogram the victim’s best friend's or romantic interest’s number to their cell number. When they sent a mean text message, it would come up as the best friend or girlfriend or boyfriend instead of theirs and the victim would blame their friend or be doubly hurt. (They should spend half the time studying as they do dreaming up these kinds of schemes!)
Key Statistics on Cyberbullying
- 85% of middle schoolers polled reported being cyberbullied at least once.
- 70% of teens polled reported cyberbullying someone else.
- 86% of elementary school students share their password with their friend(s).
- 70% of teens polled said they share their password with their boyfriend/girlfriend or best friend. Sharing your password is the digital generation’s equivalent of a “friendship ring.”
- Cyberbullying starts in 3rd and peaks in 4th grade and again in 7th-8th grade.
- Only 5% of middle schoolers would tell their parents if they were cyberbullied.
- Middle schoolers have identified 57 different reasons not to tell their parents.
- Teens have identified 68 different ways to cyberbully someone.
- Cellphones are used 38% of the time to cyberbully someone.
- Social networks are used 39% of the time to cyberbully someone.
- Password theft or misuse accounts for 27% of cyberbullying. (There is overlap between this and social networking cyberbullying.)
- Megan Meier was not the first, nor the last, to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying. At least 27 have taken their own lives after being cyberbullied.
- 44% of boys in high school reported having seen at least one nude image of a classmate.
Key Statistics on Cybersafety
- 83% of teens have at least one social networking account.
- 87% of teens with home Internet access have a Facebook account.
- 55% of 7th and 8th graders polled admitted to having a social networking account. (Both MySpace and Facebook require that you are in high school.) Eight percent of 10-year-olds admitted to having a social networking account.
- 65% of girls and 68% of boys polled were friends online with someone they didn’t know offline.
- 41% of teens polled posted their cell number, workplace, schedule, or personal pictures that they wouldn’t want a college recruiter to see on their profile.
- 67% of teens polled reported using privacy settings on Facebook to limit those who can see their profiles to those in their group/network. But 82% said that it’s easy to have anyone add you to a group or network, even if they don’t know you.
- 72% of middle schoolers report having more e-mail addresses than their parents knew about.
- Two-thirds of mothers polled reported being more concerned about cybersafety and their teens than teen drunk driving, offline strangers, or teen unprotected sex. (McAfee’s Mom/Teen survey, Harris Interactive, Oct. 2008.)