For all its huge potential social media is undoubtedly a double-edged sword, as it enables a whole slew of negative behaviors, or at least provides a new medium for them. On that note roughly half of teenagers (48%) said they have experienced online bullying via social media, and eight of ten say they know someone who has been cyberbullied, according to a new poll of 1,000 teens and their parents in the New York City area conducted by AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
Indeed, cyberbullying is an unfortunate fact of life for many teens, with 41% of teen respondents saying that most of the comments posted by their online contacts are mean. Among teens who have experienced cyberbullying, 52% said they were attacked for being social awkward, 43% for their clothes, and 41% for their sexual orientation.
Girls were more likely to report receiving degrading or insulting comments, at 58% compared to 51% for boys. A third of teens know someone who has been bullied for their sexual orientation.
No surprise, the survey found that teens are spending a lot of time online, with 53% saying they spend at least three hours a day using the Internet and 86% of this usage taking place at home. The Internet also plays a central role in teens’ social lives, with one in three teens say they prefer social media to in-person contact.
While so much Internet usage takes place in the home, parents are often unaware that their children are victims of cyberbullying: although 57% of parents said they think their children would let them know if they were being bullied online, just 33% of teens said they would actually do so.
To highlight the problem, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation are cooperating with the All American High School Film Festival to encourage young filmmakers to make short films about the impact of cyberbullying, with winning submissions be shown in schools throughout New York.