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Cyberbullying: a serious problem, but not an epidemic

by Larry Magid

I’m glad that media outlets and public officials are shining a light on cyberbullying and bullying in general. It’s important to pay attention to this serious problem, but we need to keep it in perspective. As bad as it is, cyberbullying is not an epidemic and it’s not killing our children.

Yes, it’s probably one of the more widespread youth risks on the Internet and yes there are some well publicized horrific cases of cyberbullying victims who have committed suicide, but let’s look at this in context.

Bullying has always been a problem among adolescents and, sadly, so has suicide. In the few known cases of suicide after cyberbullying, there are likely other contributing factors. That’s not to diminish the tragedy or suggest that the cyberbullying didn’t play a role but–as with all online youth risk, we need to look at what else was going on in the child’s life. Even when a suicide or other tragic event does occur, cyberbullying is often accompanied by a pattern of offline bullying and sometimes there are other issues including depression, problems at home, and self-esteem issues

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