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Good and Bad News About Cyberbullying and Social Networking

March 28, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Like everyone else who had a childhood, I endured a bit of teasing growing up. It was about silly things – like my ears, my shoes, my braces – but it hurt nonetheless. At least it was before the dawning of social networks, when I could go home at the end of the day and that was the end of it.

Today's schoolyard bullying is often also accompanied by cyberbullying, which gives bullies an invitation into your home and your life, 24 hours a day. They can bully you anonymously and in a group, on a very public forum where everyone sees it (and can even join in, if they feel so inclined.)

A cyberbullying survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says that 80% of teens have a social networking presence on at least one site, Facebook being the most popular. There is good news and bad news about that.

The good news is that 72% of teens in the study reported that their peers are “mostly kind” on social networking sites. I find this encouraging, having heard the same gloom-and-doom things about cyberbullying that you have. I wouldn't have expected the number to be so high

The bad news is that 20% reported that peers are “mostly unkind,” and 15% reported experiencing someone being mean or cruel to them in the last 12 months on a social networking site.

When I think about someone saying hurtful things to my children online (and my kids potentially taking it to heart,) it just kills me. That's why I monitor what's going on in their social networking worlds: I want to know when cyberbullying is happening, because most kids don't come right out and tell their parents that they're suffering. Check out our post, 15 Cyberbullying Behaviors For Kids to Avoid for more information.

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Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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