Teenagers are experiencing cyberbullying on Instagram more than on any other social-media platform.
That’s what Ditch the Label, an international anti-bullying organization, discovered from its survey of more than 10,000 young adults, ages 12 to 20, in the United Kingdom, about their experiences with bullying, both online and in person.
Fifty-four percent said they had been bullied, while 17 percent said they had experienced cyberbullying. Of those who had been cyberbullied, 42 percent had faced it on Instagram. The results suggest that Instagram has replaced Facebook as cyberbullies’ medium of choice.
Still, most participants disagreed with the statement, “I’m scared of being bullied or trolled online,” and 23 percent said yes when asked, “Is cyberbullying just part of growing up?” Additionally, 69 percent admitted that they had done something abusive toward another person online.
A separate survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, an independent health education charity in the United Kingdom, found that Instagram is the most negative of all social-media sites, resulting in users’ increased feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and unhappiness with their body image.
According to the survey of more than 1,400 14- to 24-year-olds, the only major social-media platform that was ranked as having a positive impact on health and well-being was YouTube, which was rated high for enabling a sense of awareness, emotional support, self-expression, and community building.
Ditch the Label attributes some of the negative impact of social media with encouraging the habit of presenting oneself differently online and offline. Twenty percent of participants said the content they post online makes their life look more exciting, and half said they are more confident online.
The findings come as cyberbullying draws increasing attention on both sides of the Atlantic. First lady Melania Trump earlier this year launched the Be Best campaign, which aims to teach children about the importance of social, emotional, and physical health, with a concentration on social media.
“Social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives,” she said at a conference on cyberbulling last week. “This is why Be Best chooses to focus on the importance of teaching our next generation how to conduct themselves safely and in a positive manner in an online setting.”
A version of this article appeared in the August 29, 2018 edition of Education Week as Looking for Cyberbullies? Try Instagram