Teen Thinking on Cyberbullying: 'It Can't Happen to Me'

A study reveals that most teens believe they won't be victims of cyberbullying — it's something that happens to other people.

When we're young, we see bad things happen — on the news and in our own lives — but for some reason we believe that we are immune to such tragedy. So, it's no surprise that teens believe that when it comes to cyberbullying, they think others are more at risk than they are.


Lucy Betts and Sondos Metwally from Nottingham Trent University headed up a study that measured how vulnerable young people felt they were to cyberbullying, compared to their peers and others. The researchers distributed a survey to a total of 63 females and 46 males between the ages of 16 and 18 years.

The teens indicated that they felt they were less at risk of being cyberbullied than their friends, other students their age, younger students, and strangers. Indeed, as with most perceptions at this age, Betts observes that youngsters have an “unrealistic perception of invulnerability,” which “appears to lead many to think it is something that happens to other people.”

"Our findings suggest that whilst young people are aware of the potential risks associated with cyberbullying, they believe that they are less likely to experience cyberbullying than their peers.”

This study does contradict somewhat with the “reported high prevalence rates of cyberbullying in some studies (ranging from 7 to 70 percent).” What's more, in my own observations, cyberbullying has been a topic of conversation with my younger cousins — something that they seem well-aware of — however, they talk about it as if it's something that happens in a far-off land.

Betts continues, saying that “it may be necessary to implement more measures so that whilst continuing to raise young people's awareness of the risks we also ensure they fully understand that this could actually happen to them."

Recent studies have indicated that people behind these anti-bullying campaigns need to start focusing on how they package their message — one that will reap real results. Just bull-horning a slogan and raising awareness won't make an impact unless it has an effective message — know your audience.

Read more at EurekAlert!

Jonathan Zittrain is a professor of law at Harvard Law School; he has a good sense of the online community, saying that for one side — the trolls — it's a game and the other side is just a group of people trying to make other's care about their issue:

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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