40% of Internet Users Suffer from Online Harassment

The results of the recent survey showed that almost 3/4 of the US Internet users claimed they have witnessed online harassment. 40% said they experienced it themselves. It was found out that young adults are most likely to have witnessed and experienced harassment on the Internet. Women aged 18-24 have experienced it disproportionately in comparison with other demographic groups.

About 3,000 Americans were interviewed for the study. Harassment was divided into two categories: “less severe”, including name-calling and attempts to embarrass people; and “more severe”, covering physical threats, stalking and sexual harassment.

According to the report, 73% of American Internet users have witnessed Internet harassment, with 40% having been its target. In the group of 18-29 year-olds, the figures rise to 92% and 65% accordingly.

Of people who’ve become a target of Internet harassment, 55% said it had exclusively been the less severe kind. Their share amounted to 22% of all users. In the meantime, 45% had also experienced more severe forms of harassment. Unsurprisingly, young women aged 18-24 were particular targets: more than ¼ of them say they have been stalked online, and the same number of them has been the target of sexual harassment.

As for male Internet users, they are more likely to have been physically threatened on the Internet: 26% compared with 23% of women aged 19-24. In total, men are more likely to experience any kind of online harassment: 44% compared with 37% of women.

Nevertheless, the report showed that women suffer more after the event: 38% of harassed women said they found it very upsetting, compared with 17% of harassed men. 2/3 of those who have been harassed on the Internet said the most recent incident happened on a social networking website or application, 22% pointed at the comments section of a website; 16% at an online game; 16% at a personal email account; and 10% at a discussion service.

The study also tried to figure out how welcoming Internet services were towards men and women. Here the report shows that online gaming stands out: more than a half of respondents believed that online games websites were equally welcoming to both sexes, but 44% of them believed they were more welcoming towards men. However, the research was carried out before the explosion of the “Gamergate” controversy – it is known that he latter has included a heated debate about harassment of women in and around the games industry.

The respondents also told how they had responded to the harassment. 60% said they had ignored it. Of the rest, 47% confronted the person online, 44% unfriend or blocked them, and 22% reported them to the relevant service.

The research also revealed that 92% of people believe the Internet allows people to be more critical of others, while 68% agreed it allows to support others as well. The study only covered the US adults, but not the issues like cyberbullying for children up to the age of 18.

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