Cyberbullying Statistics Everyone Should Know

From threats to rumors, cyberbullies use a variety of tactics

Young woman texting on cellphone

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Cyberbullying is most commonly defined as aggressive behavior that occurs through a digital medium. Calling someone names repeatedly over text messages, making threats against someone on social media, or making fun of someone while playing an online video game are just a few of the ways someone might cyberbully.

Most people think of cyberbullying as something that happens to young people—they think that it’s trouble with a middle school bully that extends beyond the classroom.

However, cyberbullying isn’t restricted to tweens and teens. It’s also occurring in colleges, in the workplace, and in adult communities.

Electronic Aggression

The CDC created a report regarding “electronic aggression,” which includes a broad array of behaviors. Electronic aggression includes harassment or bullying (teasing, telling someone lies, making fun of someone, making rude or mean comments, spreading rumors, or making threatening or aggressive comments) that occur through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, text messaging, or blogs.

Here are the statistics on what they found:

  • Between 9% and 35% of young people say they have been a victim of some type of electronic aggression.
  • 64% of victims who receive an aggressive instant message say they know the perpetrator from in-person situations.
  • 32% of victims say someone made rude or nasty comments about them.
  • 13% say someone spread online rumors about them.
  • 14% said they had been threatened or someone had made aggressive comments.

Middle and High School Students

There are many ways in which children may be cyberbullied. A peer may send threatening text messages or spread unkind rumors on social media. Or, a bully may pretend to befriend a victim in an attempt to get personal information or pictures that can be later used to embarrass the individual.

According to, here are the facts on cyberbullying in middle and high school students:

  • Fewer than one in five incidents of cyberbullying are reported to law enforcement.
  • One in 10 adolescents reports they have embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission.
  • Approximately one in five teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.
  • Only one in 10 teens tells a parent if they’ve been a victim of cyberbullying.
  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online.
  • More than one in three young people have been threatened online.
  • Over 25% of young people have been bullied repeatedly through their smartphones.

College Students

Cyberbullying doesn’t end with high school. It often continues into college.

A 2010 study published in the journal Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences surveyed 439 college students about cyberbullying. Here’s what else they found:

  • 22% of students report being cyberbullied in college.
  • 38% of college students knew someone who had been cyberbullied.
  • 9% of college students admitted to cyberbullying someone else.

They found no significant gender or ethnic group differences in any of the cyberbullying behaviors.

Suicide Stats

Cyberbullying has been linked to a variety of negative effects. A 2014 study linked it to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleeping problems, and physical symptoms.

There are many popular media stories that highlight an individual who completed suicide after being cyberbullied. However, until recently, there was very little research on whether cyberbullying actually increases the likelihood that someone might kill themselves.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Health Economics studied the link between cyberbullying and suicide. Here’s what the researchers discovered:

  • Cyberbullying increases suicide attempts by 8.7 percentage points.
  • Cyberbullying increases suicidal thoughts by 15 percentage points.
  • A 1% drop in cyberbullying decreases fatal suicide rates by 11 per every 100,000 individuals.
  • Cyberbullying laws lead to a 7% decrease in cyberbullying victimization.

Overall, cyberbullying increased the likelihood that a victim may complete suicide, especially in men. In women, cyberbullying is especially likely to increase non-fatal suicide behaviors.

If you or your teen are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Workplace Cyberbullying

Now that more and more companies depend on electronic communications, many people are being bullied online in the workplace. Researchers have found that cyberbullying in the workplace differs from other forms of bullying in many ways.

Workplace cyberbullying may take place both in and out of the office. Victims may receive electronic communication outside of work hours, making it impossible for them to escape the torment.

Workplace cyberbullying takes many forms. It may involve a social media campaign or blog that disparages the victim. It may also involve threats of exposing private information to the public.

Many people are cyberbullied by a colleague who stays anonymous. This makes it especially frustrating for the victim who isn’t sure who is targeting them.

A 2017 study published in Computers in Human Behavior reports that workplace cyberbullying has been linked to increased stress, reduced mental and physical well-being, emotional problems, reduced job satisfaction, and decreased performance.

A 2016 study conducted by the University of Sheffield and Nottingham University found:

  • 8 out of 10 people have experienced cyberbullying in the workplace in the last six months.
  • 14% to 20% of people felt they had been a victim of cyberbullying in the past week.

A Word From Verywell

If you or your child is being cyberbullied, it’s important to take action. If you can, block the bully from contacting you. It’s also important to contact a teacher, administrator, or HR professional to report what is happening. A phone call to the police may also be warranted depending on the laws in your area. If the situation is taking a toll on your mental and physical health, talk to your doctor. A referral to a therapist may help you process your experience and assist you in taking steps to feel better.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Macdonald CD, Roberts-Pittman B. Cyberbullying among college students: Prevalence and demographic differencesProcedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2010;9:2003-2009. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.436

  2. "Bullying in the Digital Age: A Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Cyberbullying Research Among Youth": Correction to Kowalski et al. Psychological Bulletin. 2014;140(4):1137-1137. doi:10.1037/a0036634

  3. Nikolaou D. Does cyberbullying impact youth suicidal behaviors?. J Health Econ. 2017;56:30-46. doi:10.1016/j.jhealeco.2017.09.009

  4. Vranjes I, Baillien E, Vandebosch H, Erreygers S, Witte HD. The dark side of working online: Towards a definition and an emotion reaction model of workplace cyberbullyingComputers in Human Behavior. 2017;69:324-334. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.055

  5. Coyne I, Farley S, Axtell C, Sprigg C, Best L, Kwok O. Understanding the relationship between experiencing workplace cyberbullying, employee mental strain and job satisfaction: A dysempowerment approach. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 2017;28(4):945-972. doi:10.1080/09585192.2015.1116454

Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.