People 'n' Issues

Teens think cyber-bullying worse than drug abuse

September 22nd, 2015
Vodafone has released the findings of a global survey spanning 11 countries, including South Africa, which revealed that more than half of teenagers think cyber-bullying is worse than face-to-face bullying.

The survey, one of the largest global surveys of its kind included almost 5,000 teens and reveals one in five teens are cyberbullied, a fifth of whom felt suicidal. In addition, 43 per cent of the participants believe it to be a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse.

The global online survey conducted by YouGov, an international internet-based market research firm, found that an average of around 18% of teens across the countries surveyed had been cyberbullied and, as a result:

·         41 per cent said cyberbullying made them feel depressed or helpless (also 41%)

·         26 per cent felt ‘completely alone’ and 18 per cent experienced suicidal thoughts

·         21 per cent had ‘not gone to school’ and 25 per cent closed down their social media accounts

·         38 per cent said they did not tell their parents or guardians, as they felt ashamed (32%), scared their parents would get involved (40%), or worried what their parents might do (36%).

Forty-three per cent of those surveyed would find it hard to support a friend who had been bullied on social media, as they ‘could not find the right words’ to show support. Seventy-two per cent of teens said they would be likely to use an emoji to express compassion or support for friends being cyberbullied.

In response to the findings, Vodafone today launches the #BeStrong anti-cyberbullying emoji initiative, which involved the creation of a suite of ‘support emojis’ to raise awareness of the importance of conveying compassion, sympathy and support when friends are being bullied online. The emojis were chosen by the 4,720 teens surveyed from a wide selection designed by Vodafone and its anti-bullying panel as their favourite symbols for compassion and support. The favourite two sets of emojis can be seen below.

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Commenting in a new video released today, the psychologist adviser for ‘Inside Out’  film, Berkley University Professor Dacher Keltner explains the importance of teens being able to offer support and show sympathy to their peers being cyberbullied. He said: “A lot of emojis can be limited for communicating emotions.  The bystander needs better tools.  Specific emojis that they can send their friends to show that they are there for them.”

Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett, said: “The results of the global survey – which we believe to be one of the largest of its kind among teenagers in so many countries – will be a serious concern for any parent. The new generation that was born digital thrives in a world of constant connectivity, but there are clear risks for young people as well as benefits – and it is striking that cyberbullying troubles many young people more than drug abuse. Our research showed many teenagers find it difficult to help their friends when cyberbullying is happening, and the #BeStrong campaign has been created to help them convey emotional support”.

Vodacom will support the campaign through its social media platforms and will encourage it customers to support this anti-bullying initiative.

Survey highlights across the 11 countries

To what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Cyberbullying is worse than bullying face to face/ in person

Czech 51%
Germany 51%
Greece 46%
Ireland 60%
Italy 48%
Netherlands 51%
New Zealand 55%
South Africa 64%
Spain 53%
UK 35%
USA 42%

Of the 11 countries surveyed, children aged 13-18 surveyed in the UK are the least likely to think cyberbullying is worse than bullying face to face (35%), whereas over six in 10 (64%) of the children surveyed in South Africa would agree that cyberbullying is worse than bulling face to face.

I have been cyberbullied (i.e. bullied online) I have heard of cyberbullying happen to someone else
Czech 8% 55%
Germany 18% 65%
Greece 14% 69%
Ireland 26% 85%
Italy 11% 70%
Netherlands 15% 51%
New Zealand 30% 84%
South Africa 24% 84%
Spain 8% 63%
UK 15% 68%
USA 27% 79%

Of the 11 countries surveyed, children aged 13-18 surveyed in New Zealand are most likely to have ever personally been bullied; 3 in 10 children in New Zealand, followed by 27% of those surveyed in USA and 26% of those surveyed  in Ireland.

Children surveyed in the Czech Republic are the least likely to have personally been cyberbullied of the 11 countries surveyed.

Of those children surveyed in New Zealand who said they had personally been bullied, over 3 in 5 reported feeling upset (62%), over half said they were angry with the bully (53%) and 47% said they felt depressed.

Of the children surveyed from the UK who had said they had been cyberbullied, over half (54%) said it made them think of themselves in a more negative way.

Through which ONE of the following ways do you think you would find it **easier** to express your feelings or views to them?

Using words Using emojis Using a combination of words and emojis
Czech 22% 13% 58%
Germany 35% 11 47%
Greece 36 10 48
Ireland 43 6 48
Italy 50 13 33
Netherlands 31 18 47
New Zealand 35 8 54
South Africa 25 10 60
Spain 48 10 36
UK 33 9 48
USA 40 7 47

Children aged 13-18 surveyed in the Netherlands are most likely to say they find it easier to express themselves using emojis (18%)

Half of children surveyed in Italy said they find easier to express themselves using words

The majority of children surveyed in South Africa (60%), the Czech Republic (58%) and New Zealand (54%) said they found it easier using a combination of both emojis and words.

How likely or unlikely would you be to share with them an emoji that has been created to show support/ compassion for people who are being cyberbullied (e.g. on social media, via text message etc.)?

Likely Unlikely
Czech 67 18
Germany 62 27
Greece 77 15
Ireland 74 20
Italy 83 11
Netherlands 70 20
New Zealand 72 20
South Africa 90 7
Spain 75 18
UK 52 32
USA 67 22

Children aged 13-18 surveyed in South Africa would be most likely to share an emoji that has been created to show support/ compassion for people who are being cyberbullied (90%), followed by Italy (83%) and Greece (77%)

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