Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

We’ve all heard the horrific tales: teasing, meanness or bullying that starts on the playground or at school follows kids home only to continue on mobile and gaming devices and on social networks.  Severe cases, though few in number, drive some to extremes, and it’s these instances that make headlines. No wonder kids around the world are worried they’ll be bullied online.

To better understand the issue globally, Microsoft commissioned and today releases survey results of a range of online behaviors among youth – from “meanness” (least severe) to online bullying or cruelty (most severe), and everything in between. Data show 54 percent of children age eight to 17 in 25 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Spain, Singapore, Turkey, UAE, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) express concern that they will be bullied online; four in 10 say someone was mean to them online, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) admit to having bullied someone else online at one time or another.      

What may be termed bullying can vary between cultures and even among individuals. Additionally, online or “cyber” bullying is not a term recognized or acknowledged worldwide. As a result, our study posed questions about online bullying in terms of children’s online experiences (i.e., being called mean names, being teased, etc.), and from their direct perspective.

Because they’re worried about being bullied online, kids want parents and trusted adults involved. Less than a third (29 percent) said parents have talked to them about poor online behavior, and they failed to pinpoint one common step parents took to help address the problem. In fact, only 5 percent said parents engage with schools when online bullying happens.

Kids need to know that adults can and will help. And, parents and educators need to understand that what they may see as bullying, kids may just refer to as “drama.” But, they should still make themselves available and offer support. To assist adults in recognizing and addressing the issue, Microsoft has created some new resources: an interactive online bullying quiz , our Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit, as well as updates to our website: www.microsoft.com/security

Whatever the issue facing youth online, Microsoft’s primary piece of guidance stands: parents, trusted adults, teachers, coaches and counselors need to keep the lines of communication open.