U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Role of Technology in Peer Harassment: Does It Amplify Harm for Youth?

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2015
12 pages
This study examined the features of peer harassment (bullying) via technology, as well as whether the emotional impact of the harassment on victims is intensified when technology is used.
The features of bullying that use technology involve the use of the Internet, including emails and online social media, and cell phones for delivering abusive messages, still images, and videos. Thirty-four percent of the national sample of 791 youth interviewed by phone reported 311 harassment incidents in the past year; 34 percent of the incidents involved no technology (in-person only); 15 percent involved only technology, and 31 percent involved both technology and in-person elements. Boys ages 10-12 were most likely to report in-person-only bullying; technology -only incidents were reported equally by boys and girls and were more likely to be reported by older teens. Uses of both technology and in-person bullying were more common among girls. The hypothesis that technology-only involvement amplifies the emotional harm to victims was not supported. Such harassment was viewed by victims as easier to stop and it had significantly less emotional impact on victims. Mixed incidents (both technology and in person incidents), however, has the most emotional impact on victims, possibly because they occurred across multiple environments and because perpetrators tended to be more socially connected to victims. These findings suggest that mixed incidents of peer harassment should be a priority for educators because of their intensified emotional impact on victims. 5 tables and 36 references
Date Published: June 1, 2015