McAfee has released findings from the company's report, 2014 Teens and the Screen Study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying. McAfee provides an annual study examining the online behavior and social networking habits of U.S. preteens and teens. The results are based on a survey among 1,502 young adult men and women between the ages of 10 and 18.
The most significant finding from the 2014 study reveals that despite significant efforts to discourage cyberbullying, and its negative effects, 87% of youth have witnessed cyberbullying. This number nearly triples last year's finding of 27% of youth who had witnessed cruel behavior online.
It is possible that heightened awareness of cyberbullying contributed to the higher numbers of students who reported witnessing the negative behavior.
Of those who responded they were cyberbullied, 72% responded it was due to appearance while 26% answered due to race or religion and 22% stated their sexuality was the driving factor. Of those who witnessed cyberbullying, 53% responded the victims became defensive or angry while 47% said the victims deleted their social media accounts, underscoring its significant emotional impact. While the study reveals cyberbullying continues to represent a serious problem for youth, the 2014 survey found 24% of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.
Unfortunately, the negative experience of cyberbullying does not only exist online. Social networks are causing a majority of U.S. adolescents to experience negative situations that ultimately lead to offline arguments. The study found 50% of youth have been involved in an argument because of something posted on social media, a 51% increase from last year’s result, which found only 33% had been involved in an argument. Four percent of young adults stated the original online altercation led to a physical fight.
The survey found that nearly half (49%) of students surveyed regretted something they have posted online.