88% of social media-using teens have seen someone be mean or cruel on a social network site.
In addition to all the specific outcomes asked of teens that we detailed above, the survey also asked about whether teens have witnessed or experienced “someone being mean or cruel online” when they are on a social network site. Among social media users, 88% say they have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network site: nearly half (47%) say they see such behavior “only once in a while,” while close to a third (29%) say they see meanness on social network sites “sometimes,” and 12% say they witness cruel behavior “frequently.” Teens are more likely than adults to report seeing mean or cruel behavior online – 69% of social media-using adults report seeing such behavior, compared with 88% of teens). Social media-using teens also see mean and cruel behavior more frequently than their adult counterparts.
Black teens more likely to say they see online cruelty “frequently.”
Black teens who use social media are more likely than Latino teens (though not white teens) to say they witness mean behavior on social network sites “frequently,” with 17% of black teens reporting seeing such behavior, along with 4% of Latino youth and 11% of white teens.
Lower-income teens more likely to say they never see online meanness.
Teens from lower-income households are more likely than those from higher-income households to say they never witness mean behavior on social network sites. Among teens from households earning less than $50,000 annually, 18% say they “never” see mean behavior on social media and 42% say they see it “only once in a while.” Just 7% of teens from wealthier families say they never see social media meanness and 50% say they see it only once in a while.
15% of social media-using teens have experienced someone being mean or cruel to them personally on a social network site.
Although a sizeable majority of social media-using teens have witnessed meanness or cruelty to others on a social network site, a much smaller number – 15% – have experienced such harassment themselves in the past 12 months.
Interestingly, adult social media users are just as likely to say that someone has been mean or cruel to them on social media in the last year as youth, with 13% reporting that someone had been mean or cruel to them on a social network site in the last 12 months.
Social network site-based meanness is experienced by all groups equally.
Among the 15% of social media-using teens who have experienced cruelty or mean behavior on social network sites, there are no statistically significant differences by age, gender, race, socio-economic status, or any other demographic characteristic measured.