Online Abuse Becoming Worse, Say Teens and 20-Somethings

By Tracey E. Schelmetic September 27, 2011

If you are the parent of a teenager or a young person in his or her 20s, this will be an uncomfortable – but necessary – read for you.

A new poll of young people conducted by the Associated Press in conjunction with MTV has found that more than half – 56 percent – of respondents said they have at one time been the target of online taunting, harassment or bullying. This number shows a small increase over numbers from the same poll conducted two years ago. 


Even more skin-crawl-worthy is the fact that fully one-third of young people report that have been “involved” in sexting, an umbrella term that can encompass sharing nude or lewd photos online, and can even involve using wireless technology to find sexual partners. Forty percent of teens or young people in a relationship reported that their partners have used computers or cellphones to abuse or control them.

While about three quarters of young people polled said they consider this kind of online behavior or “digital abuse” a serious problem and the same percentage say that “people do or say things online that they wouldn’t do or say face to face,” other results from the study would appear to show, in some cases, that the respondents themselves are part of the problem. 

When asked why people engage in bullying and name calling that includes using racist, sexist and homophobic slurs, more than half of the young people interviewed – 57 percent – believe it’s because “people are trying to be funny.” Only half as many believe it’s because “people really hold those views.” Young people’s views on whether the behavior was “funny” changed radically when the abusive language was directed at themselves, however.

While the Internet didn’t create bad human behavior, it has a way of exacerbating it. The anonymity and remoteness of the Internet – it’s easy to hide behind a pseudonym or a false identity – allows people to let rip with behavior and language they would never think of engaging in if their identities were known.

And, unlike face-to-face encounters, the Internet has a way of disseminating and preserving ugly behavior or embarrassing photos forever.

Been putting off that talk with your pre-teen or teenager about online safety? Don’t.



Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Modern Moms Shaping Influence

By: Maurice Nagle    7/19/2018

Everyone knows Mom knows best. The internet is enabling a new era in sharing, and sparking a more enlightened, communal shopping experience. Mommy blo…

Read More

Why People Don't Update Their Computers

By: Special Guest    7/13/2018

When the WannaCry ransomware attacked companies all over the world in 2017, experts soon realized it was meant to be stopped by regular updating. Even…

Read More

More Intelligence About The New Intelligence

By: Rich Tehrani    7/9/2018

TMC recently announced the launch of three new artificial intelligence events under the banner of The New Intelligence. I recently spoke with TMC's Ex…

Read More

Technology, Innovation, and Compliance: How Businesses Approach the Digital Age

By: Special Guest    6/29/2018

Organizations must align internally to achieve effective innovation. Companies should consider creating cross-functional teams or, at a minimum, incre…

Read More

Contribute Your Brain Power to The New Intelligence

By: Paula Bernier    6/28/2018

The three events that are part of The New Intelligence are all about how businesses and service providers, and their customers, can benefit from artif…

Read More