Posted: 13 November 2017

Anti-bullying week 2017: social media and cyberbullying

This Anti-bullying Week 2017 we’re highlighting the impact of cyberbullying on young people.

Our Good Childhood Report 2017 found that young people who used social media for more than four hours a day were less happy with their family, appearance and school. Children also highlighted the ways social media can be used negatively – particularly for bullying:

‘And they also bully him online. So they might bully him on texting sites, like WhatsApp. They make fun of him and call him stuff like buckhead and slaphead.’ – Young person from our Good Childhood Report 2017

Our cyberbullying inquiry

We are working with YoungMinds and Alex Chalk MPon a joint inquiry to try to understand the impact that cyberbullying has on young people’s mental health, and what more can be done to ensure that social media companies work to discourage cyberbullying on their platforms.

We heard directly from young people in a survey of 1,000.

What we found

Worryingly, nearly half of young people have had threatening, intimidating or nasty messages online. More than 8 in 10 young people think social media companies should do more to tackle cyberbullying.



One in three young people think that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves, compared to a much lower 24% who felt it was positive.

The young people were however more positive when asked how social media impacted their relationships, with 62% believing that social media had a positive impact with their friends.

'These are troubling findings. Social media is a good thing, but there is increasing evidence that prolonged exposure at such a young age carries risks.

‘As a society we are in the foothills of our understanding of the impact of social media on young people's mental health. This robust, evidence-based, inquiry will improve our knowledge, and help young people more safely navigate what can feel like a minefield.’ - Alex Chalk MP

group of young people and politicians at the cyber bullying inquiry

Team of young people from the inquiry, alongside MPs

Children and young people in Parliament

Recently 13 young people aged 14-24 came with us to parliament to give evidence on the impact of cyberbullying on young people’s mental health and well-being.

This gave young people the chance to tell MPs, peers and experts about the impact that social media and cyberbullying has had on their lives, and what will help to improve things for young people.

As the inquiry progresses, we will use this information, as well as the survey findings, to inform a set of recommendations to help social media companies prevent and respond to cyberbullying.

This inquiry will ensure that children and young people have a voice in the decisions that impact their lives.

find out more about the inquiry

By Matt Hussey - Policy team

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Inquiry: The impact of cyberbullying on social media on children and young people’s mental health

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