Teens are experiencing cyberbullying on Instagram more than on any other social media platform, a study has found.
Ditch the Label, an international anti-bullying organization, surveyed over 10,000 young adults based in the United Kingdom, ages 12 to 20, on their experiences with bullying, both online and in person.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they had been bullied at some point, while 17 percent said they had experienced cyberbullying. Of those who have been cyberbullied, 42 percent have experienced cyberbullying on Instagram. The results suggest that Instagram has replaced Facebook as the medium of choice for cyberbullies.
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 of all respondents admitted that they have done something abusive towards another person online.
A different survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, an independent health education charity in the UK, 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 by young adults as having a positive impact on health and wellbeing was YouTube, which was rated high for enabling a sense of awareness, emotional support, self-expression, and community building.
Ditch the Label credits some of the negative impact of Instagram and other social media networks with encouraging the habit of presenting oneself differently online and offline. Twenty percent of participants said that the content they post online made their life look more exciting than it actually is, and 50 percent said that they are more confident online.
The findings come as cyberbullying draws increasing attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Earlier this year, first lady Melania Trump 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, as well as well-being and opioid abuse.
Addressing a cyberbullying conference on Monday, the first lady spoke about how “social media is an inevitable part of our children’s daily lives.”
"[Social media] can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly,” she said. “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.”
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.