Study finds harassment is common online
New York – — A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life.
The first-of-its-kind report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves.
The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn’t know the person who had most recently attacked them.
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.
It can be difficult for police to go after online bullies in part because “our legal system hasn’t quite caught up with technology,” said Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University who studies online aggression. On top of that, adults are generally hesitant to report harassment because they might view it as a “child or teenage problem.”