Earlier this year, our global Connected Family Study revealed the online habits of parents and their children. What we found called for a closer look.
One finding that leaped out, in particular, is—cyberbullying occurs far more often than parents think. And in many cases, children are keeping it from their parents.
Now with our follow-on research, we set out to answer many of the questions families have about cyberbullying. Where it happens most, who’s most affected, and are children cyberbullying others without even knowing it?
Our report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: More Dangers of Cyberbullying Emerge,” provides insights into these questions and several more. We’ll cover the top findings here in this blog, while you can get the full story by downloading the report here.
Worries about cyberbullying have only grown in 2022—and they appear justified.
Even as stay-at-home mandates in 2020 and 2021 saw children exposed to more cyberbullying while they spent more time online, our ten-country survey found that concerns about cyberbullying in 2022 are even higher today:
- 60% of children said they were more worried this year about cyberbullying compared to last year.
- 74% of parents are more worried this year about their child being cyberbullied than last.
And just as the level of concern is high, the findings show us why. Families reported alarming rates of racially motivated cyberbullying, along with high rates of attacks on the major social media and messaging platforms.
Additionally, children shared insights into who’s doing the bullying (it’s largely people who know them) and more than half are the ones doing the bullying—and they don’t even realize it.
Further findings include:
- Cyberbullies are aiming racist attacks at children as young as ten.
- Millions of children have deleted their social media accounts to avoid cyberbullying.
- Despite its efforts, Meta’s social media and messaging platforms have the highest level of cyberbullying.
- A growing number of parents turn to therapy to help their children deal with cyberbullying.
Regional and cultural backdrops give cyberbullying a distinctive feel.
Our research further revealed how the face of cyberbullying takes on different form around the globe. From nation to nation, the influences of polarized politics, racial relations, and different traditions in parent-child relationships shape and re-shape the forms of cyberbullying that children see.
Each of our ten nations surveyed set themselves apart with trends of their own, some of them including:
- United States: Despite some of the most engaged parents, children in the U.S. experience among the highest rates of cyberbullying in its most extreme forms, such as sexual harassment, compromised privacy, and personal attacks.
- India: Cyberbullying reaches alarming highs as more than 1 in 3 kids face cyber racism, sexual harassment, and threats of physical harm as early as at the age of 10—making India the #1 nation for reported cyberbullying in the world.
- Canada: Canadian children experience cyberbullying largely on par with global rates—yet their parents act on it less often than other parents. Meanwhile, Canadian children are the least likely to seek help when it happens to them.
- Australia: Australian cyberbullying rates dropped significantly since our last report, yet Snapchat stands out as a primary platform for cyberbullying, more than anywhere else in the world. And of all parents worldwide, Australians feel most strongly that technology companies should do more to protect their children.
Cyberbullying in 2022: The facts confirm your feelings.
These new findings reflect the concerns of parents and children alike—cyberbullying remains a pervasive and potentially harmful fact of life online, particularly as racism and other severe forms of cyberbullying take rise.
Without question, cyberbullying endures as a persistent growing pain that the still relatively young internet has yet to shake.
The solution is arguably just as complex as the factors that give cyberbullying its shape—cultural, regional, technological, societal, even governmental. Addressing one factor alone won’t curb it. Significantly curtailing cyberbullying for an internet that’s far safer than it is today requires addressing those factors in concert.
While we recognize that tall order for what it is, and as a leader in online protection, we remain committed to it.
With these findings, and continued research to come, our aim is to further an understanding of cyberbullying for all—whether that’s educators, technology innovators, policymakers, and of course parents. With this understanding, programs, platforms, and legislation can put protections in place that still allow for companies to innovate and create platforms that people love to use. Safely and securely.