Teens, Online Stranger Contact & Cyberbullying - What the research is telling us 06-30-2008

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  • Definition of stranger – “anyone unknown to you or your friends” – could be peer, could be adult, could be innocuous, could be nefarious.
  • Aggressive solicitations are where the solicitor tries to make offline contact.
  • Journal of Adolescent Health December 2007 issue has a special issue entirely devoted to research on Cyberbullying.
  • Ybarra M, Mitchell KJ, Wolak J, Finkelhor D. Examining characteristics and associated distress related to Internet harassment: Findings from the Second Youth Internet Safety Survey. Pediatrics. 2006. 118A(4):e1169-1177. Ybarra ML, Diener-West M, Leaf PJ. Examining the overlap in internet harassment and school bullying: implications for school intervention. J Adolescent Health. 2007 Dec;41(6 Suppl 1):S42-50. Ybarra ML. Linkages between depressive symptomatology and Internet harassment among young regular Internet users. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2004 Apr;7(2):247-57.
  • 50% of teens say there is a filter on the computer they use at home 35% of teens believe that there is monitoring software on their home computer “About a quarter of parents (23%) say inappropriate media content is one of their “top” concerns as a parent, while another 51% say it’s a “big” concern, but not one of the top concerns. “ (KFF report on “Parents, Children and Media” from June of 2007. Technical vs non-technical means of keeping kids safe online Non-technical easier to do – don’t cost anything…


  • 1. Teens, Online Stranger Contact & Cyberbullying What the research is telling us… Amanda Lenhart NECC Internet Safety Town Hall June 30, 2008 San Antonio, TX
  • 2. June 30, 2008 2Internet Safety Town Hall Methodology • Interviewed 700 parent-child pairs in November 2007 and 935 parent – child pairs in Oct-Nov 2006 • Teens ages 12-17 • Nationally representative sample • Focus groups conducted in 2004, 2006 & 2007 • UNH Crimes Against Children Research Center data (Wolak, Finkelhor et al) • Internet Solutions for Kids (Ybarra)
  • 3. June 30, 2008 3Internet Safety Town Hall Teen internet use basics • 94% of teens 12-17 go online • 89% of online teens go online from home, and most of them go online from home most often • 77% of teen go online at school • 71% go online from friends or relatives house • 60% go online from a library • 66% of households with teens go online via broadband, 22% via dial up, and 10% do not have access at home. • 63% of online teens go online daily
  • 4. June 30, 2008 4Internet Safety Town Hall What are teens doing online? • 94% go online to do research for school assignments; 48% do so on a typical day. • 81% go to websites about movies, TV shows, music groups, or sports stars • 77% go online to get news • 64% of online teens have created some kind of content online • 57% have watched a video on a video-sharing site like YouTube or GoogleVideo • 55% go online to get information about a college, university or other school that they are thinking about attending. • 38% have bought something online like books, clothes or music • 28% have looked online for health, dieting or physical fitness information
  • 5. June 30, 2008 5Internet Safety Town Hall SNS: Demographics • 58% of online teens have a profile online • Girls, particularly older girls, more likely to use SNS than boys (70% of girls 15-17 have profile online, compared to 57% of boys 15-17) • Age is major factor – 12 -14 year-olds; 38% have an online profile – 15 -17 year-olds; 77% have an online profile • Other demographic factors not significant – Income – Race/ethnicity
  • 6. June 30, 2008 6Internet Safety Town Hall Concerns in Online Safety Sphere • Inappropriate contact (wanted/unwanted) – Strangers – Bullies • Inappropriate content (wanted/wanted) – Accidental Exposure – Deliberate Exposure
  • 7. June 30, 2008 7Internet Safety Town Hall Contact - Strangers • Definition of “complete stranger:” “… [someone] who has no connection at all to you or any of your friends.” • 32% of online teens have been contacted online by a complete stranger. • Of teens who have been contacted, 23% say they were made scared or uncomfortable by the stranger contact. • Overall, 7% of online teens experienced disturbing stranger contact.
  • 8. June 30, 2008 8Internet Safety Town Hall Contact – Strangers (2) • Factors that predict a greater likelihood of online contact (% reporting stranger contact in each group) – Posting photos (49%) – Having a profile online (44%) – Female (39%) – Flirting via social networks (53%) • Factors that predict a greater likelihood of scary or uncomfortable online contact – Female (11% vs. 4% of males)
  • 9. June 30, 2008 9Internet Safety Town Hall Contact -- Strangers (3) • No association between stranger contact and any other content posted to online profiles • Social network users more likely to have been contacted by strangers, but not more likely to find that contact scary or uncomfortable • Having internet monitoring software (but not filters) is correlated with lower reported levels of contact by someone unknown to the teen or his/her friends.
  • 10. June 30, 2008 10Internet Safety Town Hall Sexual Victimization • 13% of teens (1 in 7) reported unwanted sexual solicitation online Most recipients • Did not view solicitations as threatening • Ended the situations easily and effectively Unwanted contacts • Did not necessarily come from adults • Were not necessarily devious or intended to lure Aggressive solicitations and distressing solicitations reported by 4% (1 in 25) of respondents. Wanted contact • 4% reported close online friendships with adults • 0.5% (4 people) reported relationships with sexual aspects Source: UNH Crimes Against Children Research Center’s Youth and Law Enforcement Research, National Juvenile Online Victimization Studies 1 & 2
  • 11. June 30, 2008 11Internet Safety Town Hall Internet-based sexual victimization: Myth vs. reality MYTH Internet predators: • Are pedophiles who target young children • Lie about their ages & motives • Trick children into divulging personal information or use info they have naively posted online • Stalk, abduct and forcibly assault victims REALITY • Victims are teens, not young children • Few offenders lie about being youth • Most are open about their sexual intentions • Violence is rare • Meetings and sex most often are voluntary - From UNH 2005 Youth & Law Enforcement N-JOV studies
  • 12. June 30, 2008 12Internet Safety Town Hall Contact – Strangers (4) How did teens respond to stranger contact? • Of teens who were contacted by a stranger: – 65% just ignored it or deleted it – 21% responded so they could find out more about the person – 8% responded and asked to be left alone – 3% told an adult or someone in authority
  • 13. June 30, 2008 13Internet Safety Town Hall Contact – Bullies • 32% of online teens have experienced one of the following forms of online harassment, also called “cyberbullying” – 15% of teens reported having private material (IM, txt, email) forwarded without permission – 13% had received threatening messages – 13% said someone had spread a rumor about them online – 6% had someone post an embarrassing picture of them online without permission
  • 14. June 30, 2008 14Internet Safety Town Hall Contact – Bullies (2) • Girls, particularly older girls, report more online bullying; 38% of all online girls reported experiencing some type of online bullying • Social network users are also more likely to report online bullying – 39% of SNS users have experience it. • But most teens (67%) think bullying happens more OFFLINE
  • 15. June 30, 2008 15Internet Safety Town Hall Contact – Harassment (3) • The prevalence rate of Internet harassment appears to be stable. • School is by far the most common place youth report being bullied (31%) versus elsewhere (e.g., 13% online) • The majority (59%) of Internet harassment comes from other minors • Youth who report being harassed online report a myriad of concurrent psychosocial problems offline, too Source: Michele Ybarra’s work on the 2005 Youth Internet Safety Survey fielded by UNH CCRC
  • 16. June 30, 2008 16Internet Safety Town Hall All the world is not a stage... • 66% of all teens with profiles online have in some way restricted access to it – includes hiding it completely, taking it down, or making it private • 77% of profile-owning teens have a currently visible online profile – Of those with a visible profile, 59% say only their friends can see their profile. – 40% say anyone can see profile • 56% of teens with profiles say they have posted at least some fake information to their profile “I use a pseudonym, who is 24. Because I regard myself as an intellectual, it’s easier to be taken seriously if people don’t know they’re talking to a 16 year old.” - Boy, Late High School
  • 17. June 30, 2008 17Internet Safety Town Hall Exposure • 24% of parents of online teens say that their child has been exposed to inappropriate language or sexual or violent content online (2007 Cable in Classroom/Commonsense Media/Harris Interactive) • 23% of parents say inappropriate media content is one of their “top” concerns as a parent, 51% say it’s a “big” concern, but not top. (Kaiser Family Foundation, Parents Children & Media, 2007) • 70% of 15-17 year olds have accidentally stumbled onto pornographic sites; 23% “very” or “somewhat often.” (KFF, Generation Rx, 2001) • Of teens who looked for health information online, 46% were blocked from non-pornographic sites by filtering technology. (KFF, Generation Rx, 2001)
  • 18. June 30, 2008 18Internet Safety Town Hall Parents & control of internet access and use • 74% of families have their computers in a public location • 65% of parents say they check up on their teens after they go online • 53% of families filter • 45% of families have monitoring software on the computer that their child uses • Kids aware of monitoring & filtering • Parents more likely to report rules around content viewed rather than time spent with media • Internet is most regulated media in the home • Only 7% of parents have no rules about media use at all
  • 19. June 30, 2008 19Internet Safety Town Hall Final Thoughts • Only a very small number of teens report uncomfortable online contact; most ably handle the contact by deleting or ignoring it • Very little association between contact and information posted online • The tiny number of teens who are victimized most often have a host of other issues, seek attention online, and are less receptive to traditional outreach. • Bullying is reported by same % of teens as stranger contact; and yet happens more offline
  • 20. New report: Writing, Technology & Teens Amanda Lenhart Pew Internet & American Life Project alenhart@pewinternet.org http://www.pewinternet.org