What's the role of technology in peer harassment?


What are the features and emotional impact of peer harassment incidents based on of technology involvement? According to a new study the most distressing mix for kids is when harassment happens both online and in-person.

The Crimes Against Children Research Center recently released a new study with the aim to examine the features and emotional impact of peer harassment incidents based on degree of technology involvement.


34% of youth reported 311 harassment incidents in the past year: 54% of incidents involved no technology (in-person only), 15% involved only technology (technologyonly), and 31% involved both technology and in-person elements (mixed incidents). Boys ages 10 –12 were most likely to report in-person– only incidents.

Technology-only incidents were reported equally by boys and girls and more so among older teens; mixed incidents were more common among girls. Concern that technology involvement inherently amplifies harm to victims was not supported.

Compared with in-person incidents, technology-only incidents were less likely to involve multiple episodes and power imbalances. They were seen by victims as easier to stop and had significantly less emotional impact. Mixed incidents had the most emotional impact, possibly because they occurred across multiple environments and because perpetrators tended to be more socially connected to victims.


Youth experiencing “mixed” incidents of peer harassment should be a priority for educators trying to identify the most serious and harmful experiences.


Telephone interviews with a national sample of 791 youth in the United States, ages 10–20.


Download the report (pdf)

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