Online bullying

Passing notes is passé. Teens supplement books and backpacks with smartphones and social networks. And while we’re sure your kid is the good kid, a reported one in four teens are being bullied online, and 50 percent of teens are using the Internet to cheat.

Bullying exists almost everywhere. When you’re a teen, it’s in a high school’s hallways, gym class, or lunchtime. But today the traditional freshmen swirlie has been replaced by a tagged picture of your daughter as a humpback whale with the caption “Feed me!” at the bottom. McAfee completed its 2012 Teen Internet Behavior Study and found the following had the highest amount of bullying:

  • 92 percent of teens are bullied on Facebook.
  • 24 percent of teens are bullied on Twitter.
  • 18 percent of teens are bullied on Myspace (still?!).
  • 15 percent of teens are bullied on instant messaging.

Facebook knows bullying happens on its social network. The company makes a significant effort to combat bullying and has whole teams dedicated to sorting out reported content such as rude comments, photo tags, and posts. It even has a department called Hate and Harassment that deals with reported content that suggests violent or dangerous behavior, such as threats of suicide. In those cases, Facebook ropes in law enforcement; otherwise, it asks the offender to take down the aggressive content and stop bullying via a formal message.

According to McAfee’s study, children often take matters into their own hands, as opposed to using channels like the reporting tools Facebook provides. A huge 65.8 percent of teens say they responded to the bully directly. As we all know, however, online bullying rarely stays online. Of that 65.8 percent, 35 percent responded in person, and 4.5 percent of teens report actually fighting the bully.

And poor online behavior doesn’t stop with bullying. Fifty percent of teens cheat and look up test and homework answers online. Fifteen percent specifically said they cheated on a test using their mobile phone. Only 3 percent of parents believed it. Indeed over 77 percent of parents weren’t worried about online cheating at all.

There’s only a week left until September. It’s time to get your head out of the sand.

Online bullying image via Shutterstock