INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Teenage girls are most likely to be the victims of cyberbullying, according to a new report by the Indiana Youth Institute. The report found even girls as young as 11 years old are being targeted online. According to IYI, more than 25 percent of high school girls in Indiana were bullied online in the past year, compared to 12 percent of boys.
Cyberbullying includes harassing emails, texts or posts on social media. As more young kids have access to cell phones and social media accounts, cyberbullying is becoming more common than bullying on the playground or in the halls.
The report also showed teenage girls in suburban or private schools were more likely to be involved in cyber bullying, because they have more access to smartphones or computers.
“It seems to be that girls, especially, don’t want to confront each other (and) are less confrontational in person than boys are. So the cell phone and the computer may be an easier outlet for their aggression toward another person than actually confronting that person one-on-one,” said Glenn Augustine with the Indiana Youth Institute.
Augustine said the best way for parents to stop cyberbullying is to keep a close eye on kids’ social media and cell phones. Experts recommend parents “friend” their kids on all social networks and watch what they’re posting and what others are posting about them.
“The most important thing is, in today’s society is kids want technology,” Augustine said. “Letting them have access to a cell phone (or) to the computer certainly is not an issue when a parent thinks that a child is mature enough to handle those responsibilities.”
The Indiana Youth Institute also found a third of teenagers have been contacted by complete strangers online. Nearly half of children using the Internet have been exposed to pornography. As children learn to use the Internet at a younger age and it becomes easily accessible at home and at school, children are at a higher risk of becoming victims online.
Experts warn parents to talk to their kids about what’s appropriate to look at or share on the Internet.
It’s also important for kids to know that they have someone to talk to about bullying or inappropriate behavior online. Augustine said if kids have a trusted adult they can confide in, they’ll be more likely to talk about their problem before it gets worse.