U.S. Teens Believe Elected Officials, Social Networks Fail to Protect Them From Cyberbullying

59 percent of respondents to a Pew Research Center survey credited parents with doing a good job

59 percent of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online MachineHeadz/iStock

Cyberbullying is an issue that continues to rear its ugly head, and a new survey from Pew Research Center found that teens believe their parents are doing a good job at addressing the problem, but their views were different when it came to social networks and, more drastically, elected officials.

Pew found that 59 percent of the 743 teens it surveyed for its study believed parents were doing an excellent or good job addressing online harassment and online bullying, and parents were the only group to top the 50 percent mark.

On the flip side, 79 percent of teen respondents felt that elected officials were doing a fair or poor job, and 66 percent said the same of social media sites.

Other choices in Pew’s survey were law enforcement (44 percent said excellent or good job), teachers (42 percent) and bystanders (34 percent).

Pew said in its blog post discussing the survey: “Teens’ views on how well each of these groups is handling this issue vary little by their own personal experiences with cyberbullying—that is, bullied teens are no more critical than their non-bullied peers. And teens across various demographic groups tend to have a similar assessment of how these groups are addressing online harassment.”

Other findings by Pew included:

  • 59 percent of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online.
  • 63 percent believe cyberbullying is a major problem for people their age.
  • 67 percent of teens who say they are online almost constantly have been cyberbullied, compared with 53 percent of those who use the internet several times a day or less.
  • 42 percent said they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphones.
  • One-half of teens who are near-constant internet users say they have been called offensive names online, compared with 36 percent who use the internet less frequently.
  • 32 percent said someone had spread fake rumors about them online.
  • 21 percent have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing.
  • 16 percent have been the target of physical threats online.
  • 7 percent said someone has shared explicit images with them without their consent, and 57 percent of parents of teens worry about this happening, with about 25 percent saying it concerns them a lot.

  • Teenage boys and girls are equally likely to experience cyberbullying, but girls are more likely to experience rumor spreading or nonconsensual explicit messages.

  • Nine out of 10 parents of teens were at least somewhat confident that they could teach their teens how to engage in appropriate online behavior.
david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.