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Study suggests cyberbullying increased three-fold since 2013

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 11:03 am

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A recent study from security software firm McAfee indicates that 87 per cent of teen respondents have witnessed cyberbullying, which is significantly higher than the 27 per cent who responded they had witnessed bullying online in 2013.

“By uncovering our youth’s online behaviours and activities, parents, guardians, teachers and coaches can be more aware of cruel behaviour that can potentially take place offline,” said McAfee Chief Privacy Officer Michelle Dennedy in a press release.

The study, 2014 Teens and the Screen, included interviews from 1,502 American youths ages 10 to 18 that were conducted in April of this year.

Director of TELUS WISE (Wise Internet and Smartphone Education) Shelly Smith told parents at a June 4 information session in Airdrie at Good Shepherd School, online use is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world with 300,000 Tweets and 1.8 million Facebook posts being done every minute of everyday.

Though Smith is not connected with McAfee, she was in Airdrie to present to parents tips about online safety. The TELUS WISE presentation was presented in partnership with Good Shepherd School and Community Links and was a free information session for the public.

“With teens I think they have a tough road,” she said. “They have grown up in a digital world. They’ve got 24/7 access.”

Of the youth who responded and said they had experienced cyberbullying, 72 per cent said it was due to appearance, 26 per cent answered it was because of race or religion and 22 per cent said it was about their sexuality.

The study also suggests the impact of cyberbullying often spills over into the physical world, with 50 per cent of respondents indicating they had been involved in an argument because of something posted on social media and four per cent stating the online bullying led to a physical altercation.

“Parents must discuss online activity with their children to better ensure their safety and security offline,” Dennedy said.

“Whether a child is the victim or an instigator of cruel behaviour such as cyberbullying, the negative behaviour can deeply affect their identity and reputation.”

While 53 per cent of youth respondents indicated they had seen victims of cyberbullying respond in a defensive or angry way, 47 per cent said the victims had reacted by deleting their social media accounts.

Smith said in the case of cyberbullying, it may be instinctive for kids to erase the message or comments, but suggests they save them in case they are needed to prove and stop the bullying.

While 24 per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t know what to do if they were the target of cyberbullying, Smith has some simple guidelines. She suggests implementing the stop, block, record and talk technique.

Stop the bullying by leaving the activity or site where the bullying is taking place. Block the bully by not responding and blocking him/her from your social media accounts. Record the message by not deleting it and talk to an adult about the situation.

Smith also suggested parents be involved in their children’s online activities by keeping the computer or smartphone out of kids’ rooms, monitoring their activities and setting rules about usage and behaviour.

For more information on the McAfee study, visit


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