An international study of 4,720 teenagers finds that 18% reported being the victim of cyber bullying and a fifth of those experienced suicidal thoughts.
The research, commissioned by Vodafone and conducted by YouGov, also finds that:
- 43% of teenagers across all countries surveyed thought that being bullied online is worse than being bullied in person, with this view shared by 35% of UK teenagers;
- 41% said that cyberbullying made them feel depressed;
- 38% said they did not tell their parents or guardians about being cyberbullied;
- 43% think that cyberbullying is a worse problem than drug abuse;
- 54% of British teenagers said that cyberbullying made them feel worse about themselves.
Interestingly, the study finds that young people find it easier to support friends who have been cyberbullied through the use of emojis alongside words, rather than just using words alone. Vodafone has released a collection of “support emojis” chosen by the teenagers surveyed to facilitate supportive communication between young people.
Professor Dacher Keltner, a psychologist involved in the development of the emojis, tells The Guardian: What can be challenging is for people, particularly when they are young, can find it hard to show support for friends who are being bullied publicly online because they fear they’ll be bullied themselves, or they simply struggle to find the right words.
Images can be more powerful for them to use to show support or compassion.