Cyberbullying, both the act and the affect on teens, is grossly overestimated based on a survey of teenagers conducted by psychologists at the Thurgau University of Teacher Education and the universities of Berne and Zurich that was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence on March 6, 2013.
The multiple interview survey of 950 teens between the ages of 13 and 14 found that cyberbullying, which includes e-mails, text messages as well as communication in chat rooms and on platforms such as Facebook, is three times less frequent than bullying in the real world.
The researchers note that the anonymity of cyberbullying and the potential for world wide attacks and multiple assaults were more troubling to teens than any other factor associated with cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying was found to be no different from physical bullying. The aggressive and antisocial tendencies associated with any type of bulling were found to be independent of the instrument used to bully. Gender and the ability to feel empathy were found to have no relevance to the cause of cyberbullying or the possibility of being bullied.
The researchers note that the sensationalized coverage of single instances of suicide by teens as a result of cyberbullying has been the cause of a world wide misconception about cyberbullying and the affect that cyberbullying has on teens.
Lead researcher Sonja Perren of the Thurgau University of Teacher Education argues that cyberbullying should be addressed by the classic prevention measures that draws attention to the responsibility of teenagers, teachers and parents. She adds that it is not only the bullies and their accomplices who are to blame but also those who allow it to happen.