Most teens say they just ignore the mean behavior they see on a social media platform.
In addition to asking about the bystander behavior that teens witness in others on social media, we asked them about their own behavior. Social media-using teens are most likely to say they ignore the behavior themselves (91% of teens say they do this, and more than a third (35%) say they do this frequently). Social media-using teens are also likely to say they have defended the victim (80% have done so, 25% do so frequently) and to have told the other person to stop being mean and cruel (79% have done this, 20% have done so frequently). For ignoring, defending, and telling someone to stop, the most common response of these teens was that they do these things “sometimes.”
21% of social media users admit to joining in at least once in a while.
One in five (21%) social media-using teens who have witnessed online cruelty say they have joined in. Most (12%) say they join in the mean behavior “once in a while,” 7% say they do so “sometimes,” and 2% say they do it “frequently.”
White teens and boys are more likely to ignore online cruelty.
There are fewer variations in the actions that teens report that they take to respond to online mean behavior. White teens are more likely to say that they frequently ignore what is going on than Latino teens (39% vs. 23%), and teens from families with better-educated parents (some college training or a college degree) are more likely than those whose parents lack a high school diploma to say they frequently ignore online cruelty.
Boys, particularly younger boys ages 12-13, seem to have more of a stay-out-of-it approach to social network site drama. They are more likely to report that they frequently ignore what is going on when they personally witness online cruelty. Two in five (41%) boys (vs. 28% of girls) and 64% of 12-13 year-old boys say they frequently ignore online meanness when they see it on social network sites.
Older teen boys are more likely than older girls to say they have personally joined in on the harassment of someone on a social network site frequently – 4% of boys 14 to 17 say they do this frequently, compared with 1% of girls the same age.