Cyberbullying Rampant on the Internet

Sam Laird has published an article on Mashable Lifestyle that details with vivid statistics just how rampant and pervasive the problem of cyberbullying has become. Consider these stats presented in the article:

  • 42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year
  • Of the 69% of teens that own their own computer or smart phone, 80% are active on social media
  • The average teen sends 60 texts per day - reducing face-to-face communication skills
  • Teen texting rate is DOUBLE the adult texting rate
  • Girls 14-17 text more - 100 per day
  • 7.5 million Facebook users are under 13 years old
  • 81% of teens say bullying online is easier to get away with
  • 3 million kids per month are absent from school due to bullying
  • 20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.
  • 4500 kids commit suicide each year
  • Suicide is the No. 3 killer of teens in the US. (Car accidents #1, Homicide #2)

It is clear that many kids can not cope with the social and emotional demands of social media. The technology is not the problem as much as the immaturity of the user. Cognitive research shows that the human brain does not attain full cognitive and reasoning capabilities until the age of 21-24. Couple this with increasing distance from parents and family, the child lacks the mental maturity and support network needed to resist the onslaught of bullying and harassment that can come with access to social media.

The connection between kids starts at school. The peer network at school leads to wider and wider reach as kids openly "friend & follow" each other, presumably out of a desire to be popular, connected and in-the-know. As such, cyberbullying online quickly can become a school issue as students quietly bear the burden of rumors and rubbish that is cast upon them by sometimes known and unknown peers.

And unfortunately, sometimes it is adults such as teachers and other parents that are cyberbullying kids. Read Megan's Story to learn how one such parent attack ultimately lead to the suicide of a high school girl.

Unfortunately, given the trends of younger and younger children gaining access to social media and mobile devices, the scourge of cyberbullying will likely get much worse before it ever gets better. OnlineMom.com now reports that the average age for obtaining a mobile phone is 11.6 years old. The quest for solutions to cyberbullying ranges from school intervention strategies to parent intervention strategies to legal consequences and it is clear that there is no quick-fix to this problem.