Cyberbullying Increases In Modern Age

Cyberbullying rates among teens high enough to merit more attention

(RxWiki News) Bullying is nothing new to growing up. With phones and computers and social networks, however, there are many more ways for teens to become victims.

A recent study found that one in six high school students reported being bullied by electronic methods in the past year.

Meanwhile, almost a third of teens reported using the computer or video games for at least three hours a day.

"Monitor your children's online activity."

The study, conducted by Karen Ginsburg, LMSW, and Andrew Adesman, MD, of the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics department at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, investigated rates of cyberbullying and video game playing among adolescents.

The researchers used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This data set includes responses from high school students across the country who represent the different demographic groups in the US.

The 2011 data set, which surveyed 15,425 high school students, included a question about whether they had ever been bullied using email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites or texting.

They were also asked, "How many hours do you play video or computer games or use a computer for something that is not school work?"

Then the researchers focused on those who spent at least three hours a day on the computer or playing video games and analyzed their responses in terms of sex, grade and ethnicity.

Overall, 16.2 percent of the students reported being a victim of electronic bullying at least once in the past year, regardless of race/ethnicity or grade level.

The number of females bullied was double that of the males: 22.1 percent of the girls said they had been bullied, compared to 10.8 percent of the boys.

Twice as many white teens as black teens reported being bullied by electronic methods: 18.6 percent of whites compared to 8.9 percent of blacks.

Meanwhile, 13.6 percent of Hispanic youth and 14.4 percent of Asian youth reported being victims of electronic bullying.

The frequency of electronic bullying only varied a little bit from one grade level to the next.

About 15.5 percent of 9th graders reported electronic bullying, compared to 18.1 percent of 10th graders, 16 percent of 11th graders and 15 percent of 12th graders.

When the researchers looked at recreational use of the computer or video games, they found that 31.1 percent of high school students used the computer or played video games at least three hours a day.

More boys than girls used these technologies for over three hours per day: 35.4 percent of boys and 26.6 percent of girls reported this much use.

The ethnic group most likely to use the computer or video games a lot each day were Asian students, among whom 42.1 percent reported at least three hours of usage a day, compared to 28.1 percent among white students.

Kids tended to spend slightly less time on the computer or on video games as they got older.

While 32.5 percent of 9th graders spent at least three hours using the computer or video games, 31.6 percent of 10th graders, 30.7 percent of 11th graders and 28.8 percent of 12th graders did.

The researchers said the high rates of electronic bullying mean the issue needs to be seriously addressed, especially with the amount of time kids spent online.

"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 Dr. Adesman in a prepared statement.

"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," he said.

Lead author Ginsburg echoed Dr. Adesman's concerns.

"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," she said.

These study findings are preliminary. It was presented at a conference and has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research was presented May 5 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Information regarding funding and disclosures were unavailable.

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Review Date: 
May 3, 2013