One in six U.S. high school students reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months, according to a new study.
The study also found that almost one-third of high school students spend three or more hours each day playing video games or using a computer.
“Electronic bullying of high school students threatens the self-esteem, emotional well-being and social standing of youth at a very vulnerable stage of their development,” said Andrew Adesman, M.D., F.A.A.P., of Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York and lead author of the study.
“Although teenagers generally embrace being connected to the Web and each other 24/7, we must recognize that these new technologies carry with them the potential to traumatize youth in new and different ways.”
The researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 15,425 public and private high school students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts the survey every two years to monitor six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability and social problems among U.S. students.
For the first time, the 2011 survey asked students whether they had been a victim of electronic bullying in the past 12 months, including through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites and texting. They also were asked how many hours they play video or computer games or use a computer for something that is not school work.
The researchers found that 16.2 percent of the high school students surveyed reported being electronically bullied within the past 12 months.
Other study results: Girls were more than twice as likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying than boys (22.1 percent vs. 10.8 percent); while white students reported being the victim of cyberbullying more than twice as frequently as black students.
“Electronic bullying is a very real yet silent danger that may be traumatizing children and teens without parental knowledge and has the potential to lead to devastating consequences,” said principal investigator Karen Ginsburg, also at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
“By identifying groups at higher risk for electronic bullying, it is hoped that targeted awareness and prevention strategies can be put in place.”
The study also found that 31 percent of high school students reported spending three or more hours daily playing video games or using a computer for something other than school.
Boys were more likely than girls to report playing for more than three hours a day (35.3 percent vs. 26.6 percent).
The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics