What’s the worst social networking site for cyberbullying? At one point, you’d probably say Twitter, but according to a new study done by Ditch the Label, a British anti-bullying nonprofit group, it’s Instagram.
Instagram, where diet teas and makeup gurus thrive, actually has a larger base of younger people than other sites, and people between the ages of 12 and 20 experience cyberbullying there the most, according to a new study.
In the study (pdf), 10,000 British teens were studied, and 42 percent said that they were bullied on Instagram. Facebook wasn’t far behind, with 37 percent saying they were bullied, and Snapchat came in next with 31 percent. Twitter (9 percent) and Tumblr (3 percent) were at the bottom.
“Our theme this year was to explore the impact of technology and digital abuse upon the lives of young people,” said Liam Hackett, founder and CEO of Ditch the Label.
“Young people,” Hackett also said in the report, “have a huge disconnect between the things that happen online and reality, with 44 percent of respondents believing that only things happening offline could be considered as ‘real life.’”
When it comes to the United States, online harassment and bullying has been studied by the Pew Research Center, and although it did not pinpoint a social media network in its July 2017 report, and used a slightly larger age range (18-29), in its survey of 4,248 U.S. adults, it found that 41 percent of Americans have been subjected to online harassment and bullying, and 66 percent have witnessed these behaviors directed at others.
Whereas Instagram seems to harbor cyberbullying for teens in Britain, in an older report done by U.S.-based Cox Communications in 2014 (pdf), Facebook was labeled the worst place for cyberbullying in its study of 1,301 teens ages 13-17, with 39 percent of teens saying that they had witnessed bullying on Facebook. Instagram and Twitter came in the lowest, with 22 percent of teens saying that they witnessed bullying on those platforms.
With adults, it’s probably easier to block and dismiss harassing behavior, but with teens, and a lack of monitoring done by parents, harassment and bullying can result in tragedies we’ve seen played out on social media. Suicide after suicide has been reported over the last couple of years because of bullying and social media. And although Pew suggests that parents need to monitor their children’s social media activities better, teens and children are finding better ways to hide their social media activities.
Toxicity on social media isn’t going away anytime soon, but one can only hope that parents learn the tricks of the trade to monitor their children’s social media activities. And for those adults who are involved in cyberbullying, maybe one day they’ll actually realize how pathetic they really look.