Bullying is a pervasive problem, entrenched in historical, contemporary, and even hunter-gatherer cultures. Even today, people bully for dominance, social capital, and to attract a partner.
Considering the tremendous amount of time people spend on the web, it’s no wonder a common practice like bullying has surfaced in our online lives. As the cyberbullying statistics in the text below will show, cyberbullying is more prevalent than ordinary bullying. In many ways, it’s also more dangerous. The motives behind online harassment and the benefits cyberbullies derive from it, as well as the victims’ coping mechanisms, all differ.
In spite of the obvious danger, many people don’t consider cyberbullying a serious threat. We’ll address the correlation between cyberbullying and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, even suicide. Some countries understand that suicide is one of the most prominent causes of death in adults, and especially in youths. This has led to certain legislative efforts that sanction and prevent any behavior that might damage their citizens’ mental health and wellbeing.
In the text below, we’ll provide relevant cyberbullying facts across cultures, ethnicities, gender, and age groups. We’ll also give details on the different types of this form of bullying and who is affected the most by it. Most of all, we’ll cover what steps you can take to protect yourself and your children from this undoubtedly dangerous phenomenon. While federal law, in many ways, needs to catch up with this growing threat, there are still many ways to find support.
Stats That Standout
- 43% of kids experience cyberbullying at least once
- 1 in 12 women (8.2 million) and 1 in 45 men (2 million) in the US have been stalked at some point
- There are 5 types of cyberbullying
- Only 1 in 10 child victims seek the help of an adult
- 40% of adults have experienced cyberbullying
- In 2018, US cyberbullying victims were predominantly on the following platforms: Facebook (56%), Twitter (19%), Youtube (17%), Instagram (16%), online gaming (14%), and WhatsApp (13%)
- 43% of women and 28% of men have been catfished
- Of those bullied in the last year, 37% developed social anxiety and 36% fell into depression
- Cyberbullying makes young people more than twice as likely to commit self-harm or attempt suicide
The Cyberbullying Definition
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying where the aggressor uses online means to cause harm. According to the UK government, it’s considered repeated behavior with the “intent to hurt someone either physically or emotionally.” In a 2014 report, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention defined it as “any unwanted aggressive behavior that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times.”
How Is Cyberbullying Real?
A lot of people want to know the answer to this question—a reliable indicator that they’re underestimating the threat. To the untrained eye, it might seem like cyberbullying is a manageable offense. You can’t get hurt physically, and you can opt out at any time, right? If you think about it, though, a real-life confrontation is between the aggressor, the victim, and whoever finds themselves in their immediate surroundings. Online harassment, on the other hand, is forever.
Embarrassing or even pornographic photographs and videos are easily downloaded and shared with millions of users. In this case, and many others, the famous “Why don’t you just turn off the computer?” or “Why don’t you just block them?” motto fails miserably. Once sensitive material of you is posted online, ignoring the backlash is similar to burying your head in the sand. Your reputation and social position fall to pieces. The worst part is that, since most people still underestimate the real impact of cyberbullying, victims refuse to seek help or sympathy.
1. Only 1 in 10 young victims of cyberbullying will tell a parent or a trusted adult about their online abuse.
Kids and adolescents seem to think that the embarrassment of reporting internet bullying outweighs the help they can get if they come clean. With so few reported cases, we expect that reality is much worse than even the worrying stats we have on this subject. One indicator of just how helpless and alone victims feel is that only 7% of US parents are worried about cyberbullying.
2. The time spent online by the average American has risen from 9.4 hours weekly in 2000 to 23.6 hours.
That’s almost 24 hours per week, an entire day. As more and more people spend their lives online, the web is becoming a perfect hunting ground for bullies to find victims and cause harm. According to most cyberbullying facts, they often do so with impunity. The time spent surfing the web at home has increased from 3.3 to 17.6 hours a week. And that’s another disadvantage: the comfort of our own home used to shield people from bullies. Today, as more and more of our daily activities become dependent on the internet—including work, paying the bills, and shopping—we’re running low on safe spaces.
3. Young people aged 16–24 spend an average of 34.3 hours a week on the internet.
Cyberbullying is usually associated with young people and children. Since this age group spends more time online than adult users, and is generally less experienced and often acts on impulse, they make for easier targets. The explosion of social media also plays a part.
4. About 25–30% of young people have admitted to experiencing or taking part in cyberbullying.
In a cyberbullying research study by the University of British Columbia, only 12% of the respondents were also involved in traditional bullying. According to the study, cyberbullying is a significant problem, often more damaging than traditional bullying. This figure doesn’t include the relatively innocent bystanders who witnessed attacks like threats, public embarrassment, or humiliation. But keep in mind, the number of witnesses adds to a victim’s anxiety. Even when a person disconnects from the internet, their reputation continues to be crushed behind their backs.
5. 40% of adults have experienced cyberbullying.
A survey of 3,217 respondents in the American Trends Panel developed by Pew Research concluded that nearly half of American adults have experienced cyberbullying. Adult cyberbullying is clearly also prevalent, even though not many people associate the phenomenon with young people and teenagers. Respondents claim that 27% were called offensive names, including slurs, and in 22% of the cases, the cyberbully chose to embarrass them intentionally. Finally, 6% of said respondents had experienced sexual harassment online.
6. 95% of youths said their hurtful online behavior was only intended as a joke.
Only 5% of respondents engaged in cyber bullying to hurt people. This is another critical difference between online and offline bullying. Offline bullying involves a need for power and dominance, as well as aggression. It also tends to involve face-to-face interaction, even when spreading rumors and false accusations. Technology as a mediator of cyberbullying desensitizes aggressors in a number of ways. They want to joke around, rather than display aggression. They also don’t get the chance to see the victims’ reaction, and potentially feel sympathy and stop.
7. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14,000 of Massachusetts’s nearly 1 million K–12 students admitted they’d been bullied.
In light of these kinds of discoveries, there are talks of a bill that would require schools to teach the effects of cyberbullying in US schools. After all, there’s a stark contrast between the figure above and the 2,031 incidents that were actually reported in the 2017–18 school year. It’s hard to say how much of this number is due to students not reporting this type of bullying and how much of it is from schools pushing the problem under the rug. Either way, it’s vital to acknowledge that 12% of the CDC study’s respondents considered committing suicide as a result of the harassment.
8. 34% of kids in the US have experienced cyberbullying at least once.
As cyberbullying facts like these imply, young internet users need a better understanding of what sort of behavior from their peers and others is inappropriate. And if this number seems high, you’ve got another thing coming: the National Crime Prevention Council concluded that the actual percentage is much higher, amounting to 43%. Kids seem to underestimate where they ought to draw the line. Lack of education on the subject is, therefore, one of the reasons people underreport cyberbullying.
9. Identity theft statistics indicate that minors who have experienced cyberbullying are 9 times more likely to be victims of identity fraud too.
Research by Javelin Strategy & Research revealed that more than 1 million children fell victims to identity fraud in 2017. These confirmed a direct correlation between cyberbullying and this type of criminal activity. The phenomenon behind this figure is called fraping. The term derives from “Facebook” and “rape,” and it refers to the act of logging into somebody’s social network account without their consent and then impersonating them online. They might post pictures and videos or like and comment on existing posts. Conversely, they can also remove certain posts, etc.
Cyberbullying on Social Media Statistics
10. More than 80% of kids who have mobile phones use social networking services.
This figure increases to 93% for children who have smartphones. A 2018 report from the Pew Research Center shows that teens agree that they spend too much time on social media and their mobile phones. Even 60% of kids from ages 13 to 17 think their time spent online is a “major” issue for them.
One of the most important facts about cyberbullying is that the internet is where you’ll find everyone these days, especially young people. More than half of teenagers (54%) claim they’re overusing their mobile phones, and 41% claim they spend too much time on social media. Kids seem to understand these habits are taking their toll, but can’t do anything about it. So how much time is spent online out of pleasure or a need to socialize and enjoy oneself? And how much of it is spent in an annoying attempt to stay informed?
11. There are 3.2 billion social media users at this time, and this number is growing.
Cyber bullying statistics from 2019 indicate that 42% of the current world population uses at least one social media account. With this number growing at breakneck speed, some sort of social media etiquette is required ASAP. There are some attempts from major corporations like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to limit negative comments and abusive behavior, but are they doing enough? How are they handling social media bullying? Once a bully is reported, how do they react?
12. In 2018, US cyberbullying victims were predominantly on the following platforms: Facebook (56%), Twitter (19%), Youtube (17%), Instagram (16%), online gaming (14%), and WhatsApp (13%).
The December 2018 survey found that 53% of internet users had personally experienced some kind of online harassment. And a staggering 37% reported they’d suffered drastic types of online harassment, such as threatening messages, sexual harassment, and cyberstalking.
13. 75% of children who use social platforms say they believe these services support friendships and close relationships.
There’s a reason people enjoy spending so much time on social networks. The online community can be an accepting, thrilling, and exciting place. You can catch up with the latest trends in the entertainment industry, check out your friends’ holiday pics, and even express your political opinions. In the world wide web, as in life, a community can be welcoming and affirming, and the feeling of acceptance and approval is something people get hooked on, regardless of their age. Statistics on cyberbullying indicate that these very advantages contribute to just how bad people feel once someone shatters the image and social reputation they’d been building for years.
14. 39% of kids fail to enable their privacy settings on social media.
In addition, three-quarters of the kids on social media are below the age limit that allows them to open an account, a survey by the BBC’s news program for children, Newsround, has found. This information ties in closely with cyberbullying stats, as kids aged 10–12 are even less able to take the proper security measures and protect themselves.
15. As many as 39% of social network users have been cyberbullied to some extent, whereas 22% of teens online who don’t use social networks have been a victim.
It appears that traditional bullying and cyberbullying are interconnected. Kids who don’t have social media accounts are less likely to be bullied in general. And kids who get bullied offline are often persecuted online as well. Still, not having a social media account excludes kids from several peer activities, and not many people are likely to give social media up.
16. 54% of surveyed users said they distrusted Facebook’s ability to deal with online harassment compassionately.
As cyberbullying statistics show, even people who try and report cyber violence are ignored or their complaints are underestimated. In fact, 72% of people surveyed claimed that it took several moderators to handle complaints. As underreported as cyberbullying is, the fact that even those who pluck up the courage to come forward are met with this treatment is discouraging.
17. 29% of the 1,000 women who took part in a recent 2019 survey had been harassed on Facebook.
These Cyberbullying statistics from 2019 brought out worrying data on women worldwide. The Survation poll, by the feminist campaign group Level Up, found that a disheartening number of women are simply not safe on Facebook. One of the most popular social networks today, Facebook is also riddled with the biggest number of bullying complaints. The survey also found that more than half of the harassment reports filed by women are met with inaction.
18. More than 70% of teens say that blocking the perpetrator’s account is the most effective method to maintain internet safety.
Most people refuse to rely on the channels provided by social networking companies when it comes to managing online bullying. Instead, they take it upon themselves to handle things. The research conducted among American teens shows that they believe blocking an aggressor is enough. A teen will also consider asking the bully to stop bothering them or telling a friend before notifying a parent or guardian.
19. High school girls of color make up 210 out of 1000 cyberbullying victims.
As many as 46% of women under 25 and 40% of women from a black or minority ethnic (BME) group claim they were bullied on Facebook at least once. Racism, chauvinism, and sexism are still at large on social media, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center. Persons of color have to put up with additional pressure while socializing on online platforms, a sadly accurate reflection of offline issues as well.
20. 42% of LGBTQ youth have experienced cyberbullying.
The so-called bias-based bullying is a huge problem for LGBTQ+ youth as well. These kids experience nearly three times as much cyberbullying and harassment their non-LGBTQ friends. And how can we begin to learn how to stop cyberbullying when even the adults refuse to help specific victims? According to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), 63.5% of LGBTQ students have reported homophobic comments from teachers and school staff, the people who are supposed to set an example. It’s no wonder then that 63.5% of the LGBTQ students who did end up reporting homophobic incidents were met with inaction.
The 5 Types of Bullying on the Web
There’s really no official categorization of cyberbullying, so we chose to rely on legislation to come up with the following five examples. It’s implied that none of these actions were performed with the victim’s consent.
1. Harassment: Threatening or abusive messages are sent in a sustained, repeated, and intentional way.
2. Outing: This is a deliberate act meant to publicly humiliate a person by posting embarrassing, sensitive, or private photos.
3. Fraping: This occurs when a cyberbully logs into a person’s account and impersonates them, posting comments, photos, and/or videos to cause emotional harm.
4. Cyberstalking: The official cyberstalking definition varies from state to state. Often a criminal offense, this behavior involves stalking a victim via online platforms and using the collected information to bother them and cause harm. It’s often accompanied by offline stalking.
5. Catfishing: This is when a person creates a fake social media presence or a fake identity intended to deceive, manipulate, and harm a specific person.
21. In the United States, 1 in 12 women (8.2 million) and 1 in 45 men (2 million) have been stalked at some point.
What is cyberstalking capable of in an online environment? Most of us “stalk” other people’s profiles: companies check employees, ordinary people “spy” on crushes and associates. So when does it become a problem? Put simply, when the “stalker” starts affecting the victim’s life in a negative and alarming manner, law enforcement gets involved. In the US, many jurisdictions consider both stalking and cyberstalking a crime. While the cyberstalking laws differ from one state to another, a conviction can result in serious consequences, including a restraining order, probation, and even jail time.
22. 8% of American internet users have experienced cyberstalking such that it made them feel unsafe and/or scared.
The Data & Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research published their findings from a 2016 study of 3,002 persons aged 15 and older. Young persons under the age of thirty, particularly women between the ages of 18 and 24, seemed vulnerable to the most “severe” forms of cyberstalking, including physical threats and sexual harassment.
23. When US teenagers are cyberbullied, this often includes offensive name calling (42%), spreading false rumors (32%), and receiving unwanted explicit images (25%).
The Pew Research Center provided these cyberbullying statistics after they surveyed 743 teens between the ages of 13 and 17, as well as 1,058 parents. Name calling and rumor spreading have been with us since the dawn of human civilization. In the case of marginalized individuals, however, comments based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability sometimes also qualify as a hate crime.
24. Adolescent girls are about twice as likely as boys to be both the victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying.
A 2018 study from the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, found that teenage girls are more likely to be the victims of cyberbullying. What’s worse, they are also more likely to develop emotional problems as a result of online attacks.
25. 43% of women and 28% of men have been catfished, according to a 2018 survey.
What does catfishing mean to the victim? If one person deceives another during an online interaction and uses their false identity to manipulate the victim, the chances of the perpetrator committing fraud are a real possibility. Catfishing manipulations can involve asking for money, compromising photographs, or similar damaging materials that can then be used to blackmail the victim.
26. 24% of high school teens (aged 14 to 17) and 33% of college students (aged 18 to 24) have engaged in nude sexting.
Sending nudes is still edgy, exciting, and sexy to adolescents. The problem starts when a person experiences online harassment or fraping, and their private exchanges are made public. The shame and the pain of one’s nude photos or videos being posted, shared, and downloaded on the web, especially if the aggressor also profits from it, is excruciating.
The tension and fear last longer, and cause even more pain, in the case of sextortion. What is sextortion? When a perpetrator threatens to expose a victim’s private pictures unless they give in to their demands. These demands may include paying them money, sending more photos, or even engaging in sexual acts. Sextortion is how cyberbullying and online blackmail can result in sexual abuse and rape.
Cyberbullying and Depression: Mental Health Risks
27. A whopping 64% of cyberbullying victims say that it “really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.”
This nationwide survey among 5,400 US teens should raise the alarm. Schools are supposed to be sanctuaries, where teachers sow the seeds of knowledge in the sprouting minds of our young ones. So it’s distressing when these cyberbullying statistics show just how many kids are bullied online during the most important years of their development.
28. 38% of young people reported that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves.
And that’s 38% in ideal circumstances, not counting the bullying. Only 23% of kids reported that social media has an overall positive impact on their lives, and 46% of girls stated that social networking damages their self-esteem.
29. Of those bullied in the last year, 37% developed social anxiety and 36% fell into depression.
What is cyberbullying doing to people’s mental health? A cyberbully cannot see the victim’s immediate reaction to the persistent, damaging content they dish out. However, bullied youth are forced to re-enter school, an offline environment, knowing they’d been shamed and humiliated online. This shift can generate mild to severe social anxiety.
Kids tend to exclude themselves from group activities to avoid the real-life shame of interacting with peers after their reputation is smeared. In the UK, teens have reported self-harm and anxiety and even developed eating disorders as a consequence of cyberbullying in schools. As many as 41% of teens say cyberbullying made them feel depressed.
30. Cyberbullying makes young people more than twice as likely to commit self-harm or attempt suicide.
We’ve come to the bleakest cyberbullying facts. Researchers at three major universities—Oxford, Swansea, and Birmingham—joined forces to discover the true consequences of cyberbullying. They reviewed previous studies that involved more than 150,000 people under 25 across 30 countries over a 21-year period. They learned that cyberbullying increased the risk of self-harm, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behavior by 2.3 times.
31. Suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide among people aged 15–29 years, making up 8% of all deaths.
Only the tenth leading cause of death in adults, suicide is a huge concern when it comes to young people. The act of publicly humiliating, stalking, mocking, or harassing young people into fitting in with dominant social norms amounts to putting out a fire with gasoline.
32. Fewer than one-fifth of cyberbullying incidents have been reported to law enforcement.
Even though there’s no federal law on cyberbullying, there absolutely is one that covers cyberstalking. It stipulates the various ranges of imprisonment for anyone who uses electronic communications technology to engage in stalking. This includes conduct that places a person, an immediate family member, or a spouse or intimate partner in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury or “causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to a person.”
Laws against cyberbullying often tie in with other offenses and misdemeanors. The legal consequences of cyberbullying can include criminal charges for harassment, civil lawsuits for defamation and identity theft, and even a restraining order. Some cases end up in civil court while others result in criminal charges for hate crimes, impersonation, harassment, cyberbullying, and violations under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
Teach your kids about cyberbullying, outing, cyberstalking, and bullying. Let them know how malicious behavior can affect them before anything happens. Know what’s happening in your child’s life, who their friends are, and what sort of relationships they have. The data shows that cyberbullying is more likely to come from friends.
How to Deal with Sextortion
Never send nude photos to anyone, regardless of your relationship. This is the safest bet, and it leaves potential aggressors with few options. To be clear, neither a child nor an adult is to blame if a perpetrator attempts to blackmail them using compromising information, photos, or videos. The aggressor is to blame for abusing their trust or hacking into their accounts. Damage control is easier, however, if the bullies have nothing to work with.
How to Report Cyberbullying
Start by blocking the bully and reporting them to your service providers. Then, you can notify the school, if relevant, of the damaging behavior. Once this is over, consider filing an official report to the police, with regards to the victim’s plans and wishes. Consider meetings with the school counselor or a psychologist to assess the emotional damage and propose solutions.
Don’t forget to investigate the laws in your state before going to the school or the police. Federal law allows schools to discipline students for off-campus behavior that resulted in a major disruption of the learning environment at school, and this can apply to cyberbullying. We hope the cyberbullying statistics on this page helped you understand the risks of cyberbullying, and how you can protect yourself and your children.
*If you, your friends, your child, or your friend’s child are experiencing any of the types of bullying or cyberbullying we’ve discussed, you can get support by calling a suicide hotline number or the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) or by using their chat option, available 24/7 across the US. Trained, experienced individuals will offer compassion, advice, and useful resources.