- One of the largest global surveys of its kind, spanning 11 countries and almost 5,000 teens, reveals one in five teens cyberbullied, a fifth of whom felt suicidal
– #BeStrong anti-cyberbullying emoji initiative launched by Vodafone in response
– Psychologist adviser for ‘Inside Out’ film Dacher Keltner, anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky and anti-bullying NGOs involved in developing emojis to convey support
More than half of teenagers think cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying and 43 per cent believe it to be a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse, a global online survey of around 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries has revealed. The Vodafone survey, commissioned from YouGov, found that an average of around one in five (18%) teens across the countries surveyed had been cyberbullied and, as a result:
- 41 per cent said cyberbullying made them feel depressed or helpless (also 41%)
- 26 per cent felt ‘completely alone’ and 18 per cent experienced suicidal thoughts
- 21 per cent had ‘not gone to school’ and 25 per cent closed down their social media accounts
- 38 per cent said they did not tell their parents or guardians, as they felt ashamed (32%), scared their parents would get involved (40%), or worried what their parents might do (36%).
Forty-three per cent of those surveyed would find it hard to support a friend who had been bullied on social media, as they ‘could not find the right words’ to show support. Seventy-two per cent of teens said they would be likely to use an emoji to express compassion or support for friends being cyberbullied.
In response to the findings, Vodafone today launches the #BeStrong anti-cyberbullying emoji initiative, which involved the creation of a suite of ‘support emojis’ to raise awareness of the importance of conveying compassion, sympathy and support when friends are being bullied online. The emojis were chosen by the 4,720 teens surveyed from a wide selection designed by Vodafone and its anti-bullying panel as their favourite symbols for compassion and support. The favourite two sets of emojis can be seen below. news release
The company is also talking to the major emoji app and social media platforms towards featuring the emojis on their platforms in the near future.
The idea for a ‘support emoji’ was first brought to Vodafone by anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky, who has been a consultant on the initiative, working alongside semioticians (who study signs and symbols and their use or interpretation), anti-bullying NGOs including The Diana Award, ENABLE, a European Union project to help combat bullying, and Berkeley University Professor Dacher Keltner – the psychologist who advised on the creation of the characters for Pixar film Inside Out.
Commenting in a new video released today, Professor Keltner explains the importance of teens being able to offer support and show sympathy to their peers being cyberbullied. He said: “A lot of emojis can be limited for communicating emotions. The bystander needs better tools. Specific emojis that they can send their friends to show that they are there for them.”
Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett, said: “The results of the global survey – which we believe to be one of the largest of its kind among teenagers in so many countries – will be a serious concern for any parent. The new generation that was born digital thrives in a world of constant connectivity, but there are clear risks for young people as well as benefits – and it is striking that cyberbullying troubles many young people more than drug abuse. Our research showed many teenagers find it difficult to help their friends when cyberbullying is happening, and the #BeStrong campaign has been created to help them convey emotional support”.