Survey: Around 25% of Upstate NY teens experience cyberbullying

Roughly one in four teens in Upstate New York and 22 percent in the Capital Region reported experien

Roughly one in four teens in Upstate New York and 22 percent in the Capital Region reported experiencing some form of online bullying, according to the results of a Siena College Research Institute survey released Tuesday.

While just 14 percent of Capital Region teenagers – drawn from a pool of students in grades six through 12 across the region – reported having been directly bullied online, a handful more said they experienced things the researchers qualified as cyberbullying.

But the numbers are even higher when kids are asked if they know of friends or other teens that have been bullied online – 30 percent said their friends and 37 percent said other teens had been the victims of cyberbullying.

The survey, conducted in partnership with AT&T and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, polled over 1,200 upstate teenagers, working with schools to identify students to participate in a “teen cyber census” and gaining parental consent. Over 1,000 parents were surveyed as well.

The survey went beyond asking question about cyberbullying, probing teenage and parental use of social media, the internet and smartphones. In the Capital Region, nearly 90 percent of parents surveyed said their teenage child has a smartphone.

Sixty-five percent of teenagers in the Capital Region said they spend as much as three hours each day socializing with friends online; nearly 60 percent of teenagers reported spending between one and three hours online entertaining themselves with videos, music, moves or games.

“Online behavior is now central to the lives of these teenagers,” Don Levy, director of Siena Research Institute, said. “You look at the number of things and the amount of time they spend online and it’s extremely high … the degree to which they are online is staggering.”

Levy said that even some of the findings that represent a small portion of the sample should still raise concerns. Five percent of teenagers in the Capital Region and 7 percent upstate said they had agreed to meet up with someone they met online. Over 30 percent said they had given personal information – such as their name or gender – to someone they didn’t know. Meanwhile, nearly 100 percent of parents reported teaching their kids to not give out personal information or communicate with strangers online.

The survey results also raise questions for parents and educators about how to better deal with cyberbullying and children’s general online behavior. While parents indicated they put in place strong rules on their child’s internet use, the kids reported fewer restrictions.

More than 50 percent of Capital Region parents surveyed said they set limits on their children could use their computer or phone, but most teens said they can use social media as much as they want or with very few restrictions.

One of the biggest policy implications highlighted in the survey, however, may be the reluctance that teenagers have when it comes to reporting cyberbullying they have witnessed or experienced.

And while 90 percent of the Capital Region students surveyed said they have heard about cyberbullying from teachers or coaches at school, just 20 percent said they reported cyberbullying they witnessed to teachers or other school officials.

“We have a collective need to talk to each other more as adults, as school officials, as parents to develop a way for kids to report, talk about and understand this incessant chatter they are engaged with that for many has been experienced as bullying,” Levy said.

Please contact reporter Zachary Matson at [email protected] or 518-395-3120 to share your personal experiences with cyberbullying.

Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, [email protected] or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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