Teen secrecy breeds cyber bullying

Photo of teenagers using mobile phones.

Social media has become a central feature of social life for most teens – with 95 percent of teens reporting that they have an online presence, allowing them to stay in almost constant contact with their friends and peers.

Family and Child Studies Professor Sara Goldstein, who studies adolescent behavior, says that because of that online connectivity, cyber bullying and cyber aggression have emerged as particular concerns with regard to youth psychosocial adjustment.

Her initial studies and survey of high school students reveal that teens who are secretive with their parents and whose friends are cyber aggressive are more at risk when it comes to engaging in cyber bullying.

“Teens who actively keep aspects of their online lives – as well as aspects of their day-to-day lives – hidden from their parents and who have cyber aggressive friends, are at the highest risk,” she says.

Results of her current study suggest that parents can minimize the risk of their teens becoming cyber aggressive or engaging in other risky behaviors by providing a warm, non-intrusive family environment that encourages parent-child communication.