How common is cyberbullying?
It's hard to pin down exactly how common cyberbullying is among kids. Different studies measure cyberbullying differently. The definition of what cyberbullying includes can vary as well. One thing that's certain is that all kids who are online are at risk of cyberbullying. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that cyberbullying affects about 15.5 percent of high school students. For comparison, about 20 percent of high schoolers experience in-person bullying at school.
Some kids are more vulnerable to cyberbullying than others. It happens more often to girls than boys. And kids who are disabled, LGBTQ, or obese are more likely to be cyberbullied than other kids.
Cyberbullying can happen anywhere kids can connect. Apps that allow users to remain anonymous, such as Kik Messenger and Yik Yak, have been linked to high-profile cyberbullying cases. But plenty of cyberbullying happens over text, over instant-messaging, and in social media comments.
Fortunately, some companies are changing features to try to curb online abuse. Most social media allows you to block, mute, or report bad behavior. Instagram allows users to delete unwanted comments from their feeds. Twitter is developing a feature that lets you filter out negative keywords. And Kik introduced safer chatting features to cut down on problems.
It's never too early to talk to kids about cyberbullying and being a good digital citizen. Whether your kid is a victim, a bystander, or even the aggressor, discuss what to do if he or she is involved.