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40 Statistics About Cyberbullying in 2021

June 17, 2021 | UGC

In 2020, schools across the globe closed for a good majority of the year in response to the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the Internet became a crucial tool for students’ online education, as well as for communicating with teachers and connecting with peers.

As schools reopened this year, most students were able to return to some degree of in-person learning. Unfortunately, the spike in screen time that occurred during the pandemic has yet to drop, as kids and teens have gotten in the habit of depending on digital devices. In fact, 70% of parents estimate that their kids average four hours a day of screen time, as compared to 60% of parents who estimated that their kids averaged three hours or less of screen time daily, prior to the pandemic.

This increase in screen time has been linked to a rise in cyberbullying, a form of bullying that transpires through smartphones, computers, and other digital devices. Cyberbullying includes posting offensive photos or information about another individual on social media, spreading lies or rumors publicly through live-streaming apps, group texts, and social media, as well as sending threatening or hurtful texts. 

Acts of cyberbullying are intended to make the recipient or victim feel anxious, angry, depressed, embarrassed, scared, sad, or even suicidal. And the potential to send, share, and spread these images, videos, and text without ever physically facing the other person just makes cyberbullying even easier to perpetrate.

As described by Dr. Adam Pletter, clinical psychologist and founder of iparent101.com, this form of “cyberharassment is both public and permanent” which amplifies the upset. Dr. Pletter adds that cyberbullying also leaves a digital tattoo (a more fitting term than digital footprint), resulting in years of upset and often direct mental health implications. 

Today, we’ll look at 40 of the current statistics on cyberbullying, as well as how AI takes on cyberbullying and how you can get involved in Stop Cyberbullying Day on June 18th. 

Cyberbullying Perpetrators and Victims

  • 69% of individuals report having behaved abusively towards others online, but only 15% acknowledge being cyber bullies, which suggests a lack of awareness of what cyberbullying actually is. 

According to Dr. Pletter, this lack of self-awareness is often linked with feeling overwhelmed by an emotion such as power/excitement, which interferes with empathic reasoning and self-perception. It’s especially difficult for children and adolescents, who have immature brain development, to think through their emotions and see their role in a cyberbullying scenario. This lack of awareness is common when power is experienced in the moment online and social cues through digital communication are limited (for example, the absence of an upset facial expression). The typical feedback loop of “What I just said/did clearly upset this person” is compromised and often absent in text-based communications. As a result, the cyberbully goes on with their day with limited awareness of the negative impact that they had on the victim.   

“People often end up resorting to cyberbullying as a result of extreme trauma or stress in their own lives. They may struggle with responding well to trauma and cyberbullying is one of the more negative of the coping mechanisms,” explains Ali Goldstein, a LMFT who specializes in working with teenagers struggling with trauma, transitions, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and anger management. “This gets in the way of them being able to develop insight and understanding into what they are doing to other people. The added piece of being detached from their target also emboldens the cyber bully, and there is no immediate seen or experienced interpersonal consequence when they launch their attack.” 

  • 69% of those who admitted to cyberbullying have also disclosed that they have bullied others in person. [Florida Atlantic University
  • 83% of people who have been the victims of cyberbullying have also been bullied in person. [Florida Atlantic University
  • 60% of all internet users have been cyberbullied, harassed, or abused online.
  • 65% of children between the ages of eight and 14 have been exposed to cyberbullying, and according to data gathered by advocates at Guard Child, most incidents tend to occur on social media.
  • While 26% of boys have reported being the victims of online bullying, approximately 36% of girls said that they were cyberbullied. [Pew Research Center]
  • More than half of LGBTQ students have been cyberbullied at some point. [StopBullying.gov]
  • 11% of kids from houses with annual incomes of more than $75,000 were likely to be cyberbullied, while 22% of kids from households with annual incomes of less than $75,000 were likely to be cyberbullied.
  • While the primary reasons why individuals are cyberbullied vary, appearance accounts for 61% of the reasons, with academic achievement/intelligence accounting for 25%, race accounting for 17%, and both sexuality and financial status accounting for 15%. [BroadbandSearch Blog].

Platforms Where Cyberbullying Occurs

  • 42% of individuals using Instagram and 37% of those on Facebook are likely to be cyberbullied. Snapchat users have a 31% chance of experiencing cyberbullying and a 12% chance on WhatsApp. [BroadbandSearch Blog
  • When it comes to children, the numbers are even higher, as 79% of kids on YouTube and 69% of kids using Snapchat are likely to be cyberbullied. Children on TikTok have a 64% chance of experiencing cyberbullying and a 49% chance on Facebook. [Security.org]
  • 57% of adolescents and teens have been cyberbullied in an online game. [Ditch the Label]

Results of Cyberbullying   

  • 64% of students who have been cyberbullied say it affects their ability to learn and feel safe at school. [Cyberbullying Research Center]
  • 20% of kids feel that online bullying leads to skipping class. [Ditch the Label
  • 13% of teens said that cyberbullying made them concerned about attending school the day after an incident.
  • 13% of tweens reported that their physical health was impacted by cyberbullying. [Cyberbullying Research Center(2021). Tween Cyberbullying in 2020]
  • Students who are cyberbullied are twice as likely to experience stomach aches, headaches, and other ailments as other students. [Gini and Pozzoli, 2013]  

“When someone is bullied they undergo a great deal of stress. One of the side effects of that kind of stress can be physical or somatic symptoms,” Ali Goldstein explains. “These present in a number of different ways like stomach aches, headaches, disturbed sleep, muscle pain, weight loss, and other physical ailments. This is a biological response to your body experiencing the stress it’s under. When the body believes that it’s in danger, it releases hormones that inspire the body to either fight, flee, or freeze in order to address the impending stressor. This kind of response can cause long-term distress for the victim of the cyberbullying and is often confusing as they rarely know why they are feeling this way.”

  • 41% of children report that social anxiety is a result of cyberbullying.
  • Among teens who have been victims of cyberbullying, more than half have felt angry, approximately a third felt hurt, and nearly 15% felt scared afterward. [National Crime Prevention Council (2021). Stop Cyberbullying Before it Starts]
  • 37% of kids associate depression with online bullying. 
  • 19% of students who have been cyberbullied say that the experience negatively affected their feelings about themselves. [National Center for Education Statistics]
  • 25% of children feel that engaging in self-harm is a result of cyberbullying and 26% feel that cyberbullying causes suicidal thoughts. [BroadbandSearch Blog].
  • Almost one-third of tweens said online bullying had an effect on their relationships. [Cyberbullying Research Center (2021). Tween Cyberbullying in 2020]
  • 25% of teens have experienced a cyberbullying incident that culminated in a face-to-face altercation. 
  • According to WebPurify’s co-founder, Josh Buxbaum, it’s very difficult to accurately identify just how many children and teens are victims of cyberbullying, since many of them hide their struggle. In fact, only 6% of teens said that they have reported another student for hurting their feelings via a chat or message.

“Some platforms aren’t properly monitoring for bullying and child endangerment,” says Buxbaum. “Statistics show parents are not paying enough attention either, and they need to stay vigilant.”

Based on these statistics, it’s also clear that cyberbullying is a societal issue that is widespread and on the rise. The good news is that approximately two-thirds of tweens reported that they have attempted to help victims of cyberbullying, with 30% saying that they have tried to help on several occasions [Cyberbullying Research Center]. We can all take a cue from the next generation by making sure that we understand what cyberbullying is, where and why it occurs, how to help victims of cyberbullying, and how to prevent it in the first place.

Combating Cyberbullying with AI

The volume of content being shared online and on social media each day continues to increase and cyberbullies continue to find new ways to bypass technology that platforms and networks put in place to prevent online bullying. 

Although it’s not always easy to detect this harmful content, it is still possible to catch it. Our content moderation experts work behind the scenes 24/7 to filter profanity, the spread of destructive content, and instances of cyberbullying from children’s sites, online dating platforms, in-game chats, and popular social media apps.

To combat cyberbullying, WebPurify uses a hybrid approach. We combine AI and live moderation to identify user-generated images and video that are high-risk, mitigating the spread of abusive content and decreasing cyberbullying incidents. By thinking like a bully, our live moderators are trained to look for nuances, and analyze images and text that are sarcastic or suspicious in tone to determine if cyberbullying is at play. 

Furthermore, our proprietary AI-based offensive intent Smart Screen technology can be paired with profanity filtering for precise moderation based on phraseology and context in 7 categories, including flagging personal attacks, bullying, bigotry, and mental health issues. 

Handling and Preventing Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a serious problem that can have a negative impact on anyone. In recognition of Stop Cyberbullying Day, it’s important that we all work together to put an end to online bullying for good. 

Held on June 18th, Stop Cyberbullying Day is an annual event that brings together academics, brands, educators, governments, internet users, media outlets, nonprofits, and public figures worldwide to promote and celebrate an Internet that is truly diverse and inclusive. For more information on how to get involved and join others in taking on cyberbullying, check out www.stopcyberbullyingday.org.

To learn more about how parents can keep their kids safe from bullying when online, visit webpurify.com/15-ways-parents-can-help-prevent-cyberbullying. And consider making a family Internet contract, outlining different expectations for both you and your kids, and defining how you can work with your kids to handle any problems that arise.

Download WebPurify’s Family Internet Contract: Kids’ and Parents’ Pledge.