Teenagers who spend over two hours a day on social network sites are more likely to become victims of cyberbullying, a study has found. In a typical classroom of 25 to 30 students, eight to 10 children- a third of the class- have been cyberbullied at some point in their lifetime.
Teenagers may be underestimating the risk of becoming a target of cyberbullying as many of them believe that their peers are at a greater risk than they are. The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, examined data from several European countries.
School children who were spending even a little over 120 minutes on social networking sites may experience social exclusion if private, inappropriate or humiliating rumors were shared about them if they mistakenly posted confidential information or met strangers online, the researchers said.
Research consistently finds that cyberbullying is associated with several social, emotional and academic problems. Researchers at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece found that school children in Romania, Germany, and Poland were more likely to experience cyberbullying, such as aggressive and threatening messages, spreading rumours and sharing private, inappropriate or humiliating information, if they used social network sites for more than 2 hours a weekday.
This was important finding which challenges past research, said co-author Artemis Tsitsika, a professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece. Young people who are involved in cyberbullying, either an offender or victim, are also more likely to think about and attempt suicide.
“This is an important finding which challenges past research suggesting that simply having, rather than excessive use of, a social network site profile increases the risk of becoming a victim of cyberbullying, “says Artemis Tsitsika.
Earlier, it was believed that only excessive use of a social network site profile increases the risk of becoming a victim of cyberbullying. The researchers found that a relatively high proportion of school children in Romania (37.3 per cent), Greece (26.8 per cent), Germany (24.4 per cent) and Poland (21.5 per cent) have been bullied online whereas a fewer proportion experience cyberbullying in the Netherlands (15.5 per cent), Iceland (13.5 per cent) and Spain (13.3 per cent).