Cyberbullying: Causes, Types, Consequences & Prevention

Girl sad leaning up against wallCyberbullying takes place online and is a form of violence, often against kids. It can cause lasting damage to victims, and should not be tolerated by anyone. It’s important to speak to children about cyberbullying and provide them a safe space to discuss any concerns openly.

Article Overview

15 Cyberbullying Statistics

Below are several shocking stats on cyberbullying. All data that has been noted with a 1 is based on a nationally-representative sample of 5,700 U.S. middle and high school students (ages 12-17) between July and October of 2016. Those noted with a 2 are a bit older, with sources dating back to 2014.

  1. Cyberbullying is most common among adolescents and teens
  2. In 2016, adolescent girls were more likely to have experienced cyberbullying compared to adolescent boys (36.7% vs. 30.5%)1
  3. In 2016, girls were more likely to have someone spread rumors about them online while boys were more likely to say that someone threatened to hurt them online1
  4. 12.7% of males said they had cyberbullied others while 10.4% of females have1
  5. Within the previous 30 days, 7.7% of males said they have cyberbullied others while 4.4% of females have1
  6. Approximately 34% of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes1
  7. In the previous 30 days, cyberbullying experiences were the following types:1
    1. 22.5% mean or hurtful comments
    2. 20.1% rumors spread online
    3. 12.7% posted mean names or comments online with a sexual meaning
    4. 12.2% threatened to harm someone online
    5. 11.9% threatened to harm someone through a cell phone text
    6. 10.3% pretended to be someone they weren’t online
    7. 10.1% posted mean names or comments online about someone’s race or color
  8. 11.5% of students have cyberbullied others
  9. In the previous 30 days, cyberbullying offenses were the following types:1
    1. 7.1% posted mean or hurtful comments about someone online
    2. 4.1% pretended to be someone else online and acted in a way that was mean or hurtful to them
    3. 4.0% threatened to hurt someone through a cell phone text message
    4. 4.0% threatened to hurt someone while online
  10. More than 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying2
  11. 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person2
  12. 90% of teens who have seen social media bullying say they have ignored it2
  13. 9 in 10 victims will NOT inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse2
  14. Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide2
  15. About 75% of students have visited a website bashing another student2

Want more statistics? We’ve got a dedicated article that covers cyberbullying statistics by state, including the friendliest and meanest for cyberbullying, 5 must-know stats for parents, and more.

What Are The Primary Causes Of Cyberbullying?

1. Bullying Causes More Bullying

It doesn’t matter what type of bullying we’re talking about, if a child has been bullied, they are more likely to respond by bullying another person. In these cases, the child feels that their actions are justified because they’ve gone through it themselves. The child may go after their bully or another child who they see as weak.

2. The Victim “Deserves” It

Cyberbullies target students based on the school’s social hierarchy. Examples may include a jock cyberbullying a student who excels academically because they are jealous of the student’s success. Another example may be a student who is envious of another student because of who they’re dating. Cyberbullies feel the student deserves to be treated this way, so they don’t feel guilty.

3. Cyberbullies Are Bored

Cyberbullies target others to add some entertainment to their lives. They may also be seeking out attention from their parents. Instead of being entertained through a positive outlet (school activities, spending time outside, finding a hobby, etc.), the cyberbully turns to the internet to stir up some drama.

4. Cyberbullies Experience Peer Pressure Too

Cyberbullies want to fit in just like any other child. They want to fit in with a group of friends or clique. They may think that there won’t be consequences since there is “strength in numbers,” but this is not true.

5. Cyberbullies Feel Invincible

Cyberbullies think that since it is over the internet, they are safe from consequences. The cyberbully doesn’t see the child’s reaction to their actions, which makes it easier for the cyberbully to continue this behavior. It is easier for a child to cyberbully than bully face-to-face because of the anonymity.

11 Types Of Cyberbullying

  1. Catfishing is when someone steals your child’s identity and creates an online profile to be deceptive.
  2. Creating a fake profile to hide their identity. In these instances, the person probably knows the cyberbully.
  3. Cyberstalking, which can include threats being made toward someone or the attempt to meet with young people for sexual reasons.
  4. Dissing is when someone posts mean information online to hurt someone’s reputation or relationships. This includes posting photos, videos, etc. and the cyberbully is typically someone who knows the victim.
  5. Excluding someone with the intent of leaving them out of a conversation, activity, etc.
  6. Flaming, or fighting with someone online using aggressive language or images.
  7. Harassing someone repeatedly, which causes low self-esteem to the victim. The constant messaging shows the cyberbully is not remorseful.
  8. Fraping is impersonating someone online and thinking it’s entertaining or funny.
  9. Outing someone by sharing private information about them without their consent.
  10. Tricking someone to trust them, so they divulge information, which the cyberbully then shares online.
  11. Trolling someone in search of responses by insulting them online. Trolls will personally attack a person in an attempt to bring the victim down to their level.

What Are The Consequences Of Cyberbullying?

Victims of cyberbullying may experience the following consequences:

  • Abuse alcohol and drugs
  • Physical and emotional health issues
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Poor school grades
  • Avoiding other kids
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Increased thoughts of suicide

Cyberbullies may experience the following consequences:

  • Legal charges (laws vary by state, but lawmakers are attempting to make it a criminal act)
    • Jail
    • Fines
  • School suspension

How Can You Prevent Cyberbullying?

The best way to prevent cyberbullying is by talking to children about it before it becomes an issue. Below are some ways to prevent cyberbullying.

  • Talk to adolescents and teenagers about cyberbullying. Explain that it is wrong and has consequences that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
  • Have a “household rule” that states no one is allowed to send mean messages through any media platform or they lose their phone, computer, tablet, etc. privileges.
  • Encourage them to tell an adult if cyberbullying is taking place.
  • Remind them to keep their passwords private, and they shouldn’t be shared with anyone except a parent.
  • Inform them that messages shared electronically may not be secure and if they don’t want the message or photo to be shared publicly, they shouldn’t send it.
  • Tell your child not to share personal information online and never agree to meet anyone they only know online.
  • Do not allow internet access in children’s bedrooms, instead, keep the computer in a shared space.
  • Consider having a “household rule” where kids must turn in electronic devices to a parent at night.

Cyberbullying Tips (Infographic)

Here are some useful tips to keep handy. Feel free to reference and share.

Cyberbullying Statistics

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What Should I Do If I’m Being Cyberbullied?

If you are the victim of cyberbullying, find an adult you are comfortable with and open up to them about it. Ask for help and don’t keep your feelings bottled up inside. Having someone to talk to about it can help you feel less alone and you can create a plan to make it stop.

Parents, if you think your child is being cyberbullied, you may want to consider monitoring their phone and online activity. Have an open discussion with them and learn more about family tracking apps.

Have you, or has someone you know, been cyberbullied? Were you able to stop it?

Sources: [1] CyberBullying, [2] DoSomething

Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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