Laurie Merrill, The Republic | azcentral.com 10:23 a.m. MST October 22, 2014
Stop bugging me! Internet harassment an online risk
Men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.
- The harassment ranges from name calling to sexual stalking.
- Social media is the most common scene of both types of harassment, although men highlight online gaming and comments sections as other spaces they typically encounter harassment.
A new study shows that 73 percent of adult internet uses have witnessed online harassment, while 40 percent have been the victims, according to the Pew Research Center.
The harassment ranges from name calling to sexual stalking.
The Pew Center's data study shows that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.
Those who have personally experienced online harassment said they were the target of at least one of the following online:
- 27% of internet users have been called offensive names
- 22% have had someone try to purposefully embarrass them
- 8% have been physically threatened
- 8% have been stalked
- 7% have been harassed for a sustained period
- 6% have been sexually harassed
In broad trends, the data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.
Social media is the most common scene of both types of harassment, although men highlight online gaming and comments sections as other spaces they typically encounter harassment, according to the Pew report.
Online users who exclusively experience less severe forms of harassment report fewer emotional or personal impacts, while users who report more severe harassment experiences often experienced more serious emotional tolls, the study says.
Young adults — people 18 to 29 — were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment. Women ages 18 to 24 were disproportionately the victims of stalking and sexual harassment, according to the survey. And people who have more information available about themselves online, work in the tech industry or promote themselves on the Internet, were also more likely to be harassed.
Victims of harassment often don't know where it's coming from. Thirty-eight percent of people who were harassed online said a stranger was behind the threats, and another 26 percent didn't know who the person was.
Among other key findings from Pew:
— Two-thirds of those who were harassed said the most recent incident took place on a social networking site or app, while 22 percent saw it happen in the comments section of a website. Sixteen percent, meanwhile, said it happened in online gaming.
— Men were more likely to be called offensive names than women. Of all Internet users (89 percent of the U.S. population), 32 percent of men and 22 percent of women were called names. Men were also more likely to be physically threatened.
— Not everyone said they were hurt by online harassment. While 14 percent of people found their most recent incident "extremely upsetting," 22 percent said it was "not at all upsetting." The rest of the people surveyed had reactions in between.