Step into a class of 30 high school students and look around. Five of them have been victims of electronic bullying in the past year.
What’s more, 10 of those students spend three or more hours on an average school day playing video games or using a computer for something other than school work, according to a study to be presented Sunday, May 5, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.
“Electronic bullying of high school students threatens the self-esteem, emotional well-being and social standing of youth at a very vulnerable stage of their development,” said study author Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “Although teenagers generally embrace being connected to the Web and each other 24/7, we must recognize that these new technologies carry with them the potential to traumatize youth in new and different ways.”
The researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 15,425 public and private high school students. The school response rate was 81 percent, and the student response rate was 87 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts the survey on a nationally representative sample of high schoolers every two years to monitor six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability and social problems among U.S. youths.
For the first time, the 2011 survey asked students whether they had been a victim of electronic bullying in the past 12 months, including through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites and texting. They also were asked how many hours they play video or computer games or use a computer for something that is not school work.
One in six high school students (16.2 percent) reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months.
Girls were more than twice as likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying than boys (22.1 percent vs. 10.8 percent).
Whites reported being the victim of cyberbullying more than twice as frequently as blacks.
Cyber bullying, also known as electronic bullying or online social cruelty, is defined as bullying:
through instant messaging
in a chat room
on a website or gaming site
through digital messages or images sent to a cellular phone
Although sharing certain features in common with traditional bullying, cyber bullying represents a unique phenomenon that has only recently begun to receive attention in both the popular press and in academic circles. Cyber bullying not only looks and feels a bit different than traditional bullying, but presents some unique challenges in dealing with it. (Kowalski, Limber and Agatston, 2007)
“Electronic bullying is a very real yet silent danger that may be traumatizing children and teens without parental knowledge and has the potential to lead to devastating consequences,” said principal investigator Karen Ginsburg, also at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “By identifying groups at higher risk for electronic bullying, it is hoped that targeted awareness and prevention strategies can be put in place.”
Results regarding video game and recreational computer use showed:
Examples of Cyberbullying
A student is bombarded by anonymous threatening and taunting emails at home, even though there is no direct harassment at school. The victim has no idea who is sending the messages and starts to feel like everybody is against them. That student is being cyberbullied.
A school bulletin board is spammed with name-calling posts that spread vicious rumors about a specific student. The rumors aren’t true but kids at school see the posts and believe them. The student is then ostracized by peers. This student is the victim of cyberbullying.
A nasty fake profile is posted at a social networking site using a student’s real name, photo, and contact information. That student starts getting weird email messages from strangers who think the profile is real. Some of the messages are crude. Some of the messages are mean. This is another example of cyberbullying.
These are just a few examples of cyberbullying. If you are taking part in things like this it is not harmless fun. You are being a cyberbully. If you are the victim of this type of treatment you are being cyberbullied and there are things you can do to stop the harassment.
Thirty-one percent of high school students reported spending three or more hours daily playing video games or using a computer for something other than school.
Boys were more likely than girls to report playing for more than three hours a day (35.3 percent vs. 26.6 percent).
“As technology continues to advance and computers become that much more accessible, cyberbullying will continue to grow as a hurtful weapon against kids and teens,” Dr. Adesman concluded.
The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas.
The psychological and emotional outcomes of cyber bullying are similar to those of real-life bullying. The difference is, real-life bullying often ends when school ends. For cyber bullying, there is no escape. And, it’s getting worse. Read on to get the facts.
Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.
70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online.
Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.
68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
90% of teens who have seen social-media bullying say they have ignored it. 84% have seen others tell cyber bullies to stop.
Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
Susan Stevens Martin
American Academy of Pediatrics