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Online Bullying Rising in Youths

Study: 9% of Online Adolescents Report Internet Harassment
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 27, 2007 -- Internet harassment is becoming more common, affecting nearly one in 10 online adolescents, new research shows.

Back in 2000, a national survey showed that 6% of online youths aged 10-17 reported being harassed online.

That percentage jumped to 9% in 2005, based on a telephone survey of 1,500 adolescents who use the Internet.

Another new study estimates that 11% of online middle school students are bullied online; nearly half of those students don't know their Internet bully's real name, since screen names can hide a person's identity.

Online bullying and online harassment typically happens through chat rooms, text messages, and emails, and it generally happens when teens aren't in school, the studies show.

The findings appear in a special edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Internet Harassment: What to Do

In the journal, researchers provide some practical tips for parents:

  • Monitor your children's online activities.
  • Talk to your kids about Internet harassment.
  • Don't rely on Internet filters to eliminate the problem.
  • Focus on safe use of new technology, not banning the technology.

Today's kids and teens are major media users, but they need grown-up guidance about safe media use, note the CDC's Corinne David-Ferdon, PhD, and Marci Feldman Hertz, MS.

They predict that "with the development of new cell phones that are small enough to fit into young children's hands and that are designed to be visually attractive to a younger audience, more and younger children will become competent and frequent users of this technology."

That means that research on preventing online harassment "must be rapid and flexible enough to keep up with the evolving nature of technology," write David-Ferdon and Hertz.

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