A new study has found that while young people are aware of the risks of cyberbullying, most perceive others as being more at risk than themselves.
The study also found that young women are more vulnerable to this perception than young men.
The research, from Dr. Lucy Betts and Sondos Metwally from Nottingham Trent University in England, will be presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference next week in Liverpool.
For the study, researchers used a survey designed to measure how vulnerable young people felt to cyberbullying and how vulnerable they felt compared to other people. The survey was completed by 109 sixth form students (63 females and 46 males between the ages of 16 and 18).
Analysis by the researchers showed that the students rated themselves as being at a lower risk of cyberbullying than other groups, such as friends, students the same age, younger students, and strangers.
Among these other groups, younger students were identified as those at most risk of becoming a victim of cyberbullying, according to the analysis.
Girls also had a higher perception of the risks of experiencing cyberbullying than boys, the study found.
“Our findings suggest that whilst young people are aware of the potential risks associated with cyberbullying, they believe that they are less likely to experience cyberbullying than their peers,” Betts said.
“This unrealistic perception of invulnerability appears to lead many to think it is something that happens to other people.”
However, she noted that given the reported high prevalence rates of cyberbullying in some studies — ranging from seven to 70 percent — it may be necessary to implement more measures to raise young people’s awareness of the risks so that “we also ensure they fully understand that this could actually happen to them.”