Disclosures: Hinduja reports no relevant financial disclosures.
October 13, 2020
2 min read

Preteens experience ‘concerning’ level of cyberbullying, survey finds

Disclosures: Hinduja reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Approximately 21% of children aged 9 to 12 years experience cyberbullying in some form, according to a survey conducted by the Cartoon Network and the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Responses from the national survey of 1,034 preteens showed that 15% of respondents witnessed cyberbullying, 15% experienced cyberbullying themselves, and 3% reported cyberbullying others.

Source: Adobe Stock
Source: Adobe Stock

“Teens have been studied as it relates to their positive and negative internet use for a number of years,” Sameer Hinduja, PhD, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, told Healio. “Tweens haven't been. So, we wanted to go forth and see what their experiences are online with specific focus on cyberbullying.”

According to the survey, which was conducted from June 19 to July 6, 90% of children aged 9 to 12 years are using social apps. Hinduja said 13% of respondent reported that cyberbullying affected their physical health, whereas 94% of those who experienced cyberbullying said that it had negative impacts on aspects relating to themselves, their friendships or their schoolwork.

Sameer Hinduja

“That's really concerning as it relates to anxiety, depression and similar sort of negative outcomes, which I think have been disproportionately reflected when thinking about youth,” he said.

Two-thirds of survey respondents reported being willing to step in to either defend, support or help those who are being bullied in school and online.

“To me, that points out that kids generally do have good intentions, they have good hearts,” Hinduja said. “We just need to continue to encourage them and empower them to speak up and to believe in themselves, to know the difference between right and wrong, and to point out when something is unjust and to strive for justice and interaction.”

Among those who experienced cyberbullying, 60% blocked the bully and more than half told a parent. Approximately 43% ignored the bully, 30% reported them, and around 30% took a break from using the device.

Respondents reported several barriers to preventing cyberbullying, including thinking they would make it worse by interfering (35%), saying they did not know what to do or say (34.4%), not knowing how to report incidents online (26.8%) or fear of being made fun of (18.3%).

“We want to make sure that ... educators or parents are having these conversations about device use, about social media with their kid,” Hinduja said. “Now, to be sure, it could be that educators are assuming that parents are having these conversations, and parents are assuming that educators are having these conversations, but we need a united front.”

Hinduja said Cyberbullying Research Center’s website, www.cyberbullying.org, includes free resources for educators, parents and youth to learn more about cyberbullying and methods to stop it.