ALBANY – Twenty-six percent of teens surveyed from across upstate New York have been cyberbullied, according to a study conducted by the Siena College Research Institute, AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
Locally, 22 percent of teens have been cyberbullied.
More than half, 54 percent, of teen and have of parents in the Capital District have witnessed cyberbullying, including insulting or threatening comments posted online, pictures meant to embarrass, revealing videos shared online and posted rumors or allegations about sexual activity, according to the poll.
Nearly one-third of local teens say their friends have been cyberbullied and 37 percent know other teens who have suffered online bullying. More than 25 percent of Capital District teens and 14 percent of local parents witness some form of cyberbullying at least a few times a month of more.
“These stats speak to the staggering problem of cyberbullying,” said Jane Clementi, founder and board member of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “Aggressive behaviors in the electronic world can cause great pain and destruction to one’s spirit. We must instill in our youth the knowledge that technology is only as good as the people who use it.”
Tyler Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University who was humiliated when his roommate posted an intimate video of him online. He committed suicide in 2010.
Online activities are a major part of a teens’ everyday lives. Eighty-five percent of teens spend an hour or more a day with online videos or games and 73 percent are online at least an hour a day socializing with their friends.
Eighty-nine percent of area parents say that their child has their own smartphone. Nearly all parents say, and teens agree, that parents have talked with their child about ethical online behavior, including bullying, and 98 percent of parents say they have taught their children not to give out personal information online.
But over a third of local teens have shared their name and gender with someone they met only online and 5 percent have agreed to meet up with someone that they met on the internet.
Forty-one percent of Capital District parents have rules about technology that they monitor and enforce, while 44 percent have rules but admit they do not strictly enforce them.
In fact, 14 percent of parents allow their children to make their own decisions. Only 14 percent of local teens say that their parents strictly monitor their online activities while 44 percent say that while they have rules, those rules aren’t strictly enforced.
One third of teens say that their parents either aren’t very involved or simply have no idea what they are doing.
“Only, but perhaps only isn’t the right word, 2 percent of area teens say that they have been a cyberbully and 2 percent of parents acknowledge that their children have bullied others online,” Dr. Don Levy, SRI’s director said. “But more, almost 10 percent say that their friends have bullied others and over a third know other teens that have practiced cyberbullying.”
While over a quarter of the Capital District teens say that they laugh it off when someone posts something negative about them, 15 percent of all area teens and almost a quarter of girls have cried because of something posted online about them or someone close to them.
Of those that have been bullied, most – 55 percent – told their friends, 38 percent spoke to their parents, and a third confronted the bully, but only 21 percent told school officials.
Asked why cyberbullies target others, large percentages of Capital District teens cite many reasons:
-Physical appearance (42 percent)
-Social awkwardness (34 percent)
-Being thought of as gay (36 percent)
-The clothes they wear (29 percent)
-Being un-athletic (24 percent)
-Having a disability (20 percent)
-Being sexually active (21 percent)
“This first-hand account of what teens are experiencing online is a powerful wake up call to the pervasiveness of cyberbullying and its potential damaging effects,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York state president of AT&T. “The results show that awareness of cyberbullying is high in the Capital Region, and more education is needed to help teens make better online choices.”
The poll was conducted from Sept. 26 through Oct. 23 through 1,255 online interviews of students in grades six through 12 across upstate New York whose parents had provided explicit consent.
SRI also conducted 1,048 online interviews with parents of students from participating schools across upstate.