TEEN CYBER CENSUS
Surveying Upstate New York Teens and Their Parents on Internet Safety and Cyberbullying
The Siena College Research Institute conducted 1255 online interviews with students in schools across upstate New York whose parents had provided explicit consent for their children to participate. Separately, SRI interviewed 1048 adults online who have children enrolled in grades 6-12 in schools across Upstate New York.
Teens and their parents agree that cyberbullying is a serious and widespread problem in their lives in Upstate New York. It needs to be addressed, they say, before it gets worse.
Today, one in six teens and an equal percentage of their parents readily say that they or their child has been a victim of cyberbullying. After considering various cyberbullying experiences including having insulting or humiliating comments or pictures posted about a teen, we find the real rate of cyberbullying victimization is even higher. Twenty-six percent, or over one in four, teens across Upstate have been cyberbullied.
Fifty-seven percent of teens and 53 percent of parents have witnessed cyberbullying including insulting or threatening comments posted online, pictures meant to embarrass or revealing videos shared online, as well as posted rumors or allegations about sexual activity. A third of teens say that their friends have been cyberbullied and 41 percent know other teens that have suffered online bullying. Over a quarter of teens and 16 percent of parents witness some form of cyberbullying at least a few times a month or more.
Online activities are a major part of teens’ lives every day. Eighty-eight percent of teens spend an hour or more a day with online videos or games and 80 percent are online at least an hour a day socializing with their friends. Eighty-six percent of parents say that their child has a 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 have taught their children not to give out personal information online. But over a third of teens have shared their name and gender with someone they met only online and 7 percent have agreed to meet up with someone that they met on the internet.
Forty percent of parents have rules about technology and they monitor and enforce those rules while 44 percent have rules but admit that they do not strictly enforce them and 14 percent allow their children to make their own decisions. Only 11 percent of teens say that their parents strictly monitor their online activities while 44 percent say that there are rules but those rules aren’t strictly enforced and a third say that their parents either aren’t very involved or simply have no idea what they are doing.
We sincerely hope that this study leads to conversations in homes, and in schools across Upstate New York. We look to school officials, parents, concerned citizens and teens to use this data in order to address cyberbullying and lessen its impact in the lives of Upstate teenagers.
Cyberbullying is a serious and widespread problem in the lives of Upstate teens and their parents
- 16% of teens, 20% of girls and 11% of boys say that they have been a victim of cyberbullying.
- Rates are highest among the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region where 25% have been a cyberbullying victim, followed by Central New York (18%), the Capital Region (14%) and Western New York (11%).
- Looking at five types of cyberbullying, we find that cyberbullying may be even more widespread:
- Recognizing that either saying that you have been cyberbullied (16% of all teens) or having experienced one or more of five cyberbullying actions (22% of all teens) shows that the percent of teens that have been cyberbullied is actually 26% across Upstate New York.
- Sixteen percent of the 1048 parents interviewed say that their child has been cyberbullied.
- Overwhelmingly, both teens and parents see that cyberbullying is a problem.
- 87% percent of teens and 96% of parents either somewhat or completely agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem that needs to be addressed before it gets worse.
- Not only do at least one of every six teens say that they have been cyberbullied, but 33% say that their friends have been cyberbullied and 41% say that other teens that they know have been cyberbullied.
- Over a quarter of teens witness some form of cyberbullying at least a few times a month or more.
- Thirty-seven percent of parents say that other teens that they know have been cyberbullied.
- Sixteen percent of parents witness cyberbullying at least a few times a month while a third witness it at least a few times a year.
- Of the five types of cyberbullying, no fewer than 24% of teens have witnessed each with only 31% saying that they haven’t seen any of the bullying behaviors. 57% have witnessed at least one type of cyberbullying and 11% have witnessed each and every one of the five types of cyberbullying.
- Of parents who say that their child has been cyberbullied the largest percentage, 77%, say that their child has had embarrassing comments about them shared online followed by 43% whose child has had threatening comments made to them online, 24% had pictures or videos meant to embarrass them posted online, 19% had rumors about their sexual activity shared online and 9% had revealing pictures posted.
Engaging in Cyberbullying
Only a small percentage of students say that they are a bully, but more than a third of teens and a quarter of parents know who the bullies are and why they bully others
- Only 5% of teens say that they have been a cyberbully.
- But, 13% say that their friends have been a cyberbully, 35% say that other teens that they know are cyberbullies and 11% say that people that they have met online but not in person are cyberbullies.
- Three percent of parents say that their child is a cyberbully, while 26% of parents say that other teens that they know have been a cyberbully.
- While only 5% of teens describe themselves as a cyberbully:
- 15% have posted something online that they regret.
- 7% have posted something online in the heat of the moment that ended up hurting someone.
- 4% have posted something that they are not proud of and is still available online.
- Of those that have cyberbullied, they cite wanting to get back at someone, being angry and thinking it was funny as the explanations.
- Teens know all the reasons why cyberbullies target others.
- They include: Physical appearance (44%), social awkwardness (35%), being thought of as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (35%), the clothes they wear (30%), being unathletic (26%), having a different group of friends (26%), having a disability (24%), and being sexually active (20%).
Responding to Cyberbullying
- 16% of all students, and 25% of girls, have cried because of something posted online about them or someone close to them.
- 12% have ended a friendship because of something posted online and 11% have gotten into a yelling match due to an online post.
- Of those that say that they have been cyberbullied:
- Over half, 54%, have told their friends, 41% have told their parents or guardians, 31% have confronted the bully, and only 20% have told school officials.
- Still, a plurality of teens, 27%, say that they laugh it off when someone posts something negative about them rather than tell someone close to them (20%), confront the person who posted it (17%) or just felt embarrassed and didn’t talk to anyone about it (7%).
- When someone posts something negative about me I tend to react by…”
- Of the large group that has witnessed cyberbullying, they are most inclined to reach out to the victim (33%), do something about it (24%), try to report it (20%) or ignore it (12%).
- Of those that ignore cyberbullying the largest percentage, 54%, say that it is none of their business but 13% are afraid that they might become a victim.
- Teens spend a great deal of time online.
- Eighty percent spend more than an hour a day socializing with friends online.
- 86% of parents say that their child has their own smartphone, with an additional 2% sharing a smartphone with another person or group of people, for a total of 88%.
- Half of parents say that they set limits to the amount of time their child can use a cellphone.
- Parents are involved in monitoring their children’s use of the internet and have provided them guidance and they continue to engage them in conversations about safe internet use.
- Still, 40% say that they have rules about technology that their child is expected to follow and that they monitor and enforce those rules, while more, 44%, say that while they have rules, they do not strictly monitor or enforce. Fourteen percent say that they let their child make their own decisions and only step in when there is a serious problem.
- Teens tell a different story:
- Contrary to what the parents say, 45% of teens say that their parents let them use social media as much as they want while 34% say that there are some restrictions and only 8% say that there are significant restrictions.
- Only 28% say that their parents look through their phone or other devices a few times a month (14%) or at least once a week (14%).
- Nearly a quarter (23%) of teens say that they would be terrified if their parents saw their text messages on their smartphone with 12% saying the same about the websites they visit, 12% about their social media accounts and 11% about their pictures.
- Still, 64% say that their parents can see what they do on social media.
- But only 30% say that their parents look through their social media posts at least once a week.
- Most agree that their parents have talked to them about online dangers and appropriate online behavior.
- But only 11% say that they can’t do anything online without their parents knowing while 44% say that their parents know what they are doing but aren’t too strict and 27% say their parents know very little about what they are doing and aren’t really involved while 6% say that their parents have no idea.
- Teens are very active on social media
- 7% have agreed to meet up with someone that they met online and of those teens, 73% (5% of the total) have gone through with the meeting.
- Over half, 56%, re-read a post before posting it but many do so only some of the time.
- And they admit that by 44-8 percent, teens they know are more likely to say something hurtful online rather than in person.
The Teen Cyber Census is an initiative of the Siena Research Institute, The Tyler Clementi Foundation and AT&T