Cyberbullying Among Teens
New apps are providing fertile ground for cyberbullying among teens.
Following the success of platforms like Ask.fm, Curious Cat, Yik Yak, Whisper and Secret, 2 new so-called “honesty apps” Sarahah & TBH (shorthand for “to be honest”) enable users to provide anonymous feedback about individuals. The apps provide a ready platform for cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is an increasingly significant public health problem that is especially pronounced in girls and LGBTQ youth. Cyberbullying can lead to serious negative social, mental, and physical effects.
The potential for abuse by youth and teens of so-called “honesty apps” is clear.
While TBH is reportedly heavily-moderated, critics fear that its requirement that the app be permitted to access users’ location and contacts makes the app unsafe for young users.
Sarahah is reported to be breeding harassment.
One user review commented “My friend who is suicidal is getting messages like why are u still alive kill urself already.”
Sarahah was one of the most downloaded iPhone apps in the U.S. in August.
Instagram unrolled new tools aimed at combatting cyberbullying on the heels of recent reports finding it to be the worst online platform for cyberbullying.
The changes to the social media platform include filtering out comments containing abusive keywords and the ability to block out entire groups.
The problem of cyberbullying warrants serious attention—particularly given studies estimating that in the U.S. up to 34% of students between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced cyberbullying, defined as:
Having experienced repeated threats, harassment, mistreatment, or being purposely made fun of, online or through electronic devices.
Girls experience cyberbullying more frequently than boys. And LGBTQ youth face cyberbullying up to 3 times as often.
Cyberbullying victims are more often female. And the disparity in cyberbully rates due to gender is significant.
Cyberbullying Victims – Risk Factors
According to a recently published article, “How Dangerous is Cyberbullying?,” girls are 2.6 times more likely to be cyberbullied than boys.
The article also reports that women are victims of cyber harassment at twice the rate of men, with 53% of women reporting they had previously received unwanted sexually explicit images.
Cyberbullying and cyber harassment involve intimidating or embarrassing a victim through methods such as:
The victim’s personally identifying details are published online.
The victim is impersonated online.
Damaging or embarrassing photos or videos are published online.
Cyberbullying is considered an increasingly significant public health problem.
Victims of cyberbullying may suffer serious negative social, mental, and physical effects as a result—including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Various states have enacted criminal laws prohibiting cyberbullying. Cyberbullying and cyber harassment may also be fought through civil litigation.
An experienced lawyer can help you explore and evaluate your legal options to help stop cyberbullying.
Read more: Attorney Candice Blain Offers Expertise in Spin magazine