Research on cyberbullying sponsored by Opennet has found that teenager who are 'heavy cell phone users' are more likely to engage in the practice of bullying online, as well as become bullied themselves.
According to the survey, mobile devices such as phones, tablets and notebooks that have wireless capabilities can be linked to cyberbullying rates among young people. The survey was conducted online in 2011 through a sample of 503 U.S. 13 - 17 year olds, who stated they had use of a cell phone.
The more extensively teenagers use their cell phones, the greater their risk of exposure to both experiencing and engaging within inappropriate mobile activity. Teens who are heavy cell phone users are more likely than 'average' users to be cell phone mis-users, become cyberbullies or experience harassment themselves. Heavy cell phone users are defined as teens who send more than the 'average' number of texts in a typical school day (60 or more).
Some conclusions the research suggests are:
- 46 percent of heavy users experience cyberbullying on their cell phones, a much higher rate compared to just 23 percent of teenagers who are within the 'normal usage' bracket.
- 88 percent of cyberbullies indicate they have been bullied themselves across wireless networks.
- Teenage girls are more likely than boys to make attempts at hiding their cell phone activity from their parents, such as deleting texts or hiding online activity. Yet, it is teenage boys who are more likely to have parental rules for cell phone usage.
- Generally, it is heavy cell phone users and mis-users that are more likely to hide their cell phone activity from their parents.
- 70 percent of parents set rules for cell phone usage, with 14 percent installing parental control software.
- Strong parent-teen relationships with high trust levels may help in steering off inappropriate cell phone activity.
Michael Manzo, CMO of Openet sees the use of mobile devices by teenagers as a two way street:
"The proliferation of mobile access cuts both ways for teenagers. While this age group needs an effective way to communicate with parents and friends, mobile devices can also serve as a gateway to behavior that is damaging for both the victim and the perpetrator. While legislation against cyber-bullying, along with parental supervision, are a good start to preventing this activity, wireless carriers also bear a responsibility to help ensure that parents can monitor and control their children’s mobile phone access and usage."
The study found that cyberbullying through mobile devices or online methods is a serious issue within this age group, and that it can cause strong emotional impacts. The more you use mobile devices as a means of communication, the more likely you are to experience harassment across them. The study also reports that teenagers who experience and participate in cyber-bullying are more likely to get into trouble or feel unhappy than those who do neither.
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