If you think youngsters are having the fun of their lives on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, think again. A study has revealed that most teenage boys in these sites are victims of bullying and 19-year-olds are most vulnerable to virtual harassment.
According to a new study to find out online trolling among teenagers, 85 percent of 19-year-old males from Britain said they have experienced online bullying or trolling. Only 37 percent of bullying victims reported the problem to the social network; 17 percent first reacted to the menace by informing their parents while one percent approached their teachers.
Facebook tops the list of social network sites where bullying is most rampant. Around 87 percent of the bullying victims said they experienced it on Facebook, 19 percent on Twitter, 13 percent on BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), 9 percent on Ask.fm, 8 percent on Bebo, and 4 percent on Whatsapp.
The Trolled Nation study was carried out by the knowthenet.org.uk that helps people stay safe and secure online. It also offers security and safety information on online dangers like identity theft, phishing, credit card fraud and cyberbullying.
"Whilst some might expect girls to be more vulnerable online, this study shows that older boys are more at risk from trolling and cyber bullying. Many boys feel under pressure to demonstrate their bravado, particularly on the web, but this attitude and male deficiency in coping strategies can make them more vulnerable and open to trolling," said Arthur Cassidy, Psychologist and knowthenet.org.uk trolling expert.
"Online bullying can have a massive impact on older male teenagers at a time when they are finding their identities. Suicide rates are particularly high amongst this demographic, so it's worrying to hear that teenagers on the whole are choosing to deal with internet abuse themselves rather than speaking to parents or teachers for help."
The study also found out that online bullying is more prevalent than in real life, as only 49 percent of teenagers said that they had experienced bullying offline, compared to 65 percent online.
"Parents may find it frustrating that children spend so much time absorbed with their smartphone or on social networks. It's precisely because of the importance of these networks to youngsters that they can also cause great distress," said Phil Kingsland, Site Director at knowthenet.org.uk. "Online trolling can be as traumatic as physical bullying in the playground, so it's important that action is taken quickly and parents and teachers work together to monitor and deal with the issue."
"Bullying both on and offline continues to be a serious problem for a huge number of teenagers and we cannot ignore its often devastating and tragic effects. We work with hundreds of young people being cyber-bullied or trolled so badly that it can lead to depression, truancy, self-harm, or even force them to contemplate or attempt suicide," said Emma-Jane Cross, CEO and founder of the charity BeatBullying.
Here are some tips for teens and parents from knowthenet.org.uk to tackle online trolling:
1. Don't feed the trolls - trolls feed off your response so whatever you do, never reply.
2. Tell a mate, a teacher, a parent or someone you trust about it as soon as possible.
3. Collect evidence of email or message trails in case it gets more serious. See our checklist on how to help catch a troll.
1. Listen to your teenager and discuss the problem they're having
2. Help your child with the practical elements of gathering evidence, but be respectful of their privacy - so ask before reading their messages
3. Support your child in reporting the abuse to the social network, online messaging service, or even the authorities and keep monitoring the situation on a regular basis. There's more information on how to report online abuse in our knowledge centre.