Safety net: The cyberbully inquiry

Social media companies aren’t doing enough to tackle cyberbullying, putting young people’s mental health at risk.


Young people want social media companies to get tougher on cyberbullying, that's why we, alongside YoungMinds and Alex Chalk MP, are calling for social media companies to take faster and firmer action.


read the full report

Introduction


Social media is a huge part of everyday life for most young people, offering them 24/7 connectivity, creativity and access to endless information.

There are many positives to social media, but it also presents new and unique pressures and risks.

Throughout the inquiry. we heard harrowing accounts from children and young people who described cyberbullying as feeling ‘inescapable’, and in the most extreme of cases it has pushed them to the verge of suicide.

The evidence


This inquiry has examined the impact that online bullying can have on children and young people’s mental health, and assessed what role social media companies have in preventing and tackling online bullying on their platforms.

Nearly half of young people (47%) have received intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online

Key findings


  • Children and young people are using social media for longer periods, and using multiple profiles
  • Underage (U13) use of social media is common place
  • There is a connection between intensive social media use and mental ill health.

 

44%

of children and young people spend more than three hours per day on social media, whilst almost

1 in 10

reported always using social media overnight between midnight and 6am.

 

 

While many young people say social media helps them make friends, more than half

56%

of young people have been excluded from conversations or groups on social media.

 

38%

of young people reported that social media has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves,

46%

of girls stated that social media had a negative impact on their self-esteem.

 

 

Not getting enough likes or followers leads to young people feeling inadequate.

46%

wouldn’t tell their parents if they had a bad experience on social media.

One young person described social media as ‘almost like a drug’

Cyberbullying – a new form of bullying


Cyberbullying has the capacity to reach a much wider audience,continue around the clock, affect children in both public and privates paces – from schools to their bedrooms – and escalate quickly if people share or comment on bullying content.

Young people are particularly vulnerable


The inquiry heard about the impact that cyberbullying can have on children and young people’s mental health.

We heard how being bullied online, and the psychological trauma that can come with it, increases the chances that a child will go on to have poor social outcomes throughout their life.

Children and young people who are currently experiencing a mental health problem are more than three times more likely to have been bullied online in the last year.

Social media companies aren’t doing enough to tackle cyberbullying

More steps must be taken by social media giants

Young people consistently raised issues with the inquiry about the slow and inadequate response they received from social media companies following a report of cyberbullying.

There is an appetite among young people for greater intervention, with 83% calling for social media companies to do more to tackle cyberbullying on their platforms.

That's why, together with Government, schools, families and industry, we have identified a number of issues that need to be addressed to ensure that social media companies play their part in limiting cyberbullying and its negative impacts on children and young people.

read the full report