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Cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying, teens say

After all, cyberbullying can happen around the clock, it's relentless, and it's driven by crowd behaviour.


Many teens consider online bullying to be worse than face-to-face bullying, a survey of teenagers has found.

After all, cyberbullying can happen around the clock, it’s relentless, and it’s driven by crowd behaviour – in fact, you can consider it a horrible manifestation of crowd-sourcing.

The survey of 4720 teenagers around the world found that people – particularly young people – can find it tough to show support for friends who are being cyberbullied, given that they’re afraid of being bullied themselves or simply struggle to find the right words.

Vodafone commissioned the survey from internet-based market research firm YouGov.

18% of the teens surveyed – nearly one in five – reported that they’ve been cyberbullied. Of that group, 18% experienced suicidal thoughts.

More than half of teens said that they consider cyberbullying to be worse than face-to-face bullying, and 43% consider it it to be a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse.

More of the findings:

  • 41% said cyberbullying made them feel depressed, and 41% said it made them feel helpless
  • 26% felt “completely alone”
  • 21% stayed away from school
  • 25% closed down their social media accounts
  • 38% said they didn’t 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%).

Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and the psychologist adviser on the Pixar film Inside Out, said, in a video put out in conjunction with the survey release, that research has shown how friend-to-friend support is one of the most successful ways of preventing and addressing cyberbullying.

But again, young people are often hampered by fear of being targeted, and they simply don’t know what to say.

Of those surveyed, 43% said they’d find it hard to support a friend who’d been bullied on social media, as they “could not find the right words” to show support.

They do know how to text, though. Keltner said that emojis can help to tell victims of cyberbullying that they’re not alone.

72% of teens said they’d be likely to use an emoji to express compassion or support for friends being cyberbullied.

Vodafone’s on it. The UK-based telecom on Tuesday came out with a new set of emojis, vetted by the teenage survey respondents, to show compassion and support.

The idea was suggested to the company by anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky.

Of the teens’ two favourite sets of emojis, one shows hands silhouetted in an embrace against a heart image. The other set shows two hands, of different colours, clasping each other.

The images are part of a donation campaign from Vodafone Foundation, which is the telecom’s philanthropic arm.

The foundation also announced that it will help raise funds for anti-bullying NGOs by donating 10p (14 cents) for every Twitter retweet or public Facebook like of Vodafone’s image of what it’s calling the #BeStrong emojis, for a total donation of up to £100,000 (€137,000, $152,525).

Vodafone is also talking to the major emoji app and social media platforms with regards to featuring the emojis on their platforms in the near future.

Can a simple emoji actually make a difference to somebody who’s being cyberbullied?

An emoji is just a whisper: the bare minimum amount of contact you can make with somebody.

In the best of all possible worlds, we’d all stand up for our friends when they’re being bullied. We’d intervene, and we’d give full voice in compassion and support.

But in the world we actually live in, an emoji is a much louder, better alternative to the response cyberbullying victims too often get.

Too often, all they hear is silence.

Bring on the support emojis.

Image of girl being cyberbullied courtesy of


Amazing, immature people have a hard time being mature.
Social media is more of a placebo for social activity.
Put the devices down and get together with people. I wish the big EMP would hit so people can get back to being people and not electronic communication units.


My God kids just turn the damned computer off and get a real live with real friends. Get out of the house and enjoy life. If you see someone being a bully ban that person from your life in person and in cyberspace. If everyone banned the bullies they would have no one to bully.


“Of those surveyed, 43% said they’d find it hard to support a friend who’d been bullied on social media, as they “could not find the right words” to show support.”

This staggering statistic both confuses and astounds me.

Voicing support for a friend is not rocket science. Have we lost the ability to communicate something as basic as this, or have we lost empathy? Are we so “me” oriented now that we don’t really care?


Thank you for the article. Found the comment interesting that it is a potential greater problem than drug abuse. What ever happened to the saying “I’m rubber and your glue, what ever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” I know old school saying, but still applies, trouble is that was when the person was in front of you and in your face. Not the case anymore.


Maybe we all should have a 2 hour internet free period during the evening where people can talk to each other as opposed to being glued to a smart device which makes a fool out of you anyway. With minute by minute updates of everyone’s life, its no wonder that people have nothing to talk about these days.


Well before we all go flying off into the stratosphere about how amazing we just might be at expressing and finding words for every scenario in life and how we could unite the world via social interactions, I’d point out that we were all young once and couldn’t find words either.

Not just bullying, grieving from someone dying, someone being injured, etc. Im not Voltaire, so I may have to have a few extra moments to find the “proper words”. But also sometimes I can’t find the words and theres nothing wrong with that.



I am 13 years old and i have words to say when i stand up for my friends. Bullying isn’t good, i have been bullied before and it hurts, both cyber and face-to-face. I think both hurt the same amount so im just saying that if you have nothing nice to say DONT SAY NOTHING AT ALL. Thats what my mom told me because it hurts not just not just the person getting bullied it also finds away to hurt the bully. Everyone needs a break from the internet!!!!!!!!!


I as a 16 year old have experienced in-person bullying and cyberbullying and let me tell you that cyberbullying is a lot worse. People keep thinking it’s because you’re on the internet that they are cyber bullying you, to just go out in the real world and make friends, well for some people it’s not that easy, and if you stop going online you won’t be cyberbullied, well that’s not the only problem, they also have to deal with in-person bullying. All you gotta do is think before you speak, whether that be in-person or online, because your actions have consequences.


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