The Internet is one of the greatest things ever created. But sometimes, it can be one of the worst. 40% of U.S. web users have experienced some form of harassment according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.
Being called an offensive name (27%) was the most common type of harassment. That pretty much takes covers YouTube comments and any online video game. Someone trying to embarrass them came in second at 22%. The harassment gets progressively worse from here. Physical threats and stalking came in at 8%. 7% experienced continual harassment. And, 6% have been sexually harassed.
According to Pew, 18% of all internet users in the U.S. have experienced “more severe” kinds of harassment. That includes physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, etc.
Pew’s data shows name-calling and physical threats were experienced mostly by men. Young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.
The 18-29 age group is the most likely demographic group to experience online harassment. No surprise there. AARP members aren’t exactly avid Twitter users.
Young women, specifically ages 18-24, experience the most severe types of harassment at “disproportionately high levels.” 26% of them have been stalked online, while 25% were sexually harassed online.
Where does the harassment occur most? Right where you expect it. Social media. 66% of users who have experienced online harassment said the most recent case happened on a social networking site or app. Website comments section came next at 22%.
16% said they experienced it while playing video games online. Anyone who has jumped on Call of Duty can attest to that.
Who does the harassment? This is where the anonymity of the internet comes into play. More than half of those doing the harassment are strangers to their victims.
60% of people ignored their most recent incident of harassment. 40% responded. Of those who responded, 47% confronted them. 44% unfriended or blocked the person responsible.
Pew Research also looked at the after-effects of online harassment.
“Taken together, half found their most recent experience with online harassment a little or not at all upsetting. But a significant minority, 27%, found the experience extremely or very upsetting,” the report reads.
Women, who see more extreme levels of harassment, were also more likely to find the harassment extremely or very upsetting. “38% of harassed women said so of their most recent experience, compared with 17% of harassed men,” according to the report.
The report is a long one, but definitely worth a read (scroll all the way down to read the full report). I touched on some of their findings above, but the report dives a lot deeper into the subject of online harassment.