50% of 14-24 Year Olds Have Experienced Digital Abuse, 3 in 10 Have Sent or Received Nude ‘Sext’ Messages, & Only 1 in 2 Believe Digital Behavior Could Come back to Haunt them
Young People Who ‘Sexted’ Are Four Times More Likely to Have Contemplated Suicide & Targets of Digital Bullying are Nearly Three Times as Likely to Consider Dropping out of School
MTV and The Associated Press today revealed the results of a new study exploring the full scope of digital abuse, an emerging issue including behaviors like “sexting,” cyberbullying and digital dating abuse. The study, which takes an in-depth look at the pervasiveness of this issue, how it’s affecting America’s youth and how they’re responding to it, finds that half of all 14 – 24 year olds have been the target of some form of digital abuse. The survey also found that these issues affect young people across all demographics and regions, touching young people from all sections of society.
The research also affirms that technology opens new avenues for manipulation and control among young people in relationships. 3 in 10 have sent or received nude “sext” messages on their cell phones or online, with over 60 percent of those who sent a nude photo reporting that they were pressured to do so at least once. 1 in 4 report that their partners check up on them multiple times per day to find out where they are, what they’re doing and/or who they’re with, and 27 percent state that their partners have checked their private messages (e-mail, Facebook, etc.) without permission.
Over 75 percent of young people state that it’s a serious problem for people their age. However, few consider the more serious consequences and risks of their behavior, with only 51 percent believing that their digital actions could come back to haunt them, and only 25 percent considering that these actions could have legal consequences. Beyond this, the survey finds that victims of digital abuse are more likely to face mental health struggles and are twice as likely to have contemplated suicide compared to those who have not encountered it (8% vs. 3%, respectively). Those who have “sexted” are four times more likely (12% vs. 3%) to have considered suicide, and targets of digital bullying are nearly three times as likely to consider dropping out of school.
The MTV and Associated Press study was released today in tandem with the launch of MTV’s “A THIN LINE,” a new multi-year initiative to empower America’s youth to identify, respond to and stop the spread of digital abuse.
Detailed findings from the December 2009 study include:
3 out of 10 young people have engaged in “sexting” related activities, either sending or receiving a nude photo on their cell phones or online. 1 in 10 report having shared a naked “sext” of themselves.
• This incidence is slightly higher among females as compared to males (13% vs. 9%, respectively).
• Of those who have shared a naked photo, most report sending the image to a significant other or romantic interest.
• Significant others are the number one party that “sexts” are shared with. However, 29 percent of respondents who have shared a naked photo of themselves report that they shared the image with someone who they never met in person and only knew online.
“Sexts” are often shared with unintended viewers:
• Nearly 1 in 5 sext recipients report that they passed the images along to someone else.
• 55 percent of young people who shared the images did so with more than one person.
Young people have conflicting views of sexting. Those involved tend to characterize the practice as “flirty,” “exciting,” “hot,” “fun,” and “trusting.” Young males are more likely than females to describe “sexting” as “hot,” while girls are more critical, with over half referring to “sexting” as “slutty,” “stupid,” and “dangerous.”
II. DIGITAL DATING ABUSE
From cell phones to Facebook to email to Twitter, young people are connected across multiple platforms unlike generations before them. This new technological landscape opens new avenues for manipulation and control within romantic relationships. Nearly a quarter of young people currently involved in some sort of romantic relationship report that their boyfriend or girlfriend checks up with them multiple times a day to see where they are, who they’re with, and/or what they’re doing.
Additionally, digital platforms are changing the dynamics of youth relationships and creating new forms of dating abuse:
• More than 1 in 4 state that their boyfriend of girlfriend has checked text messages in their phone without permission.
• Over 10 percent have had a boyfriend or girlfriend call them names, put them down, or say mean things to them on the Internet or via cell phone.
• More than 1 in 10 report that a boyfriend of girlfriend has demanded passwords.
• Roughly 1 in 10 have had a significant other demand that they “unfriend” former boyfriends/girlfriends on social networks.
III. CONSEQUENCES & RESPONSES
The MTV/AP study shows that young people recognize that digital abuse is a problem, with roughly 7 in 10 stating that digital abuse is a serious problem for society that should be addressed. Despite this concern, only half of young people believe that items posted online could come back to hurt them later.
Even fewer are aware of the types of problems that could arise from digital actions:
• Just 1 in 4 have given at least some thought to the idea that things they post online could get them into trouble with the police.
• Only 28 percent of students considered that they could get in trouble at school for online behaviors.
• Just 29 percent of young people who are employed have considered that they could get in trouble with their boss.
Additionally, many young people demonstrated a willingness to share passwords. More than 1 in 4 report that they have shared an online password with someone. Females are more likely to share passwords than males, and among those who have shared online passwords, more than half report sharing it with a “close” friend. Those who have shared passwords are more likely to report having been a target of digital abuse (68 percent, compared to 44 percent who have not shared their password).
V. EMOTIONAL IMPACTS
The MTV/AP study finds that victims of digital abuse are more likely to experience intense emotional responses, including thoughts of suicide.
When looking at mental health struggles:
• Victims of digital abuse are more than twice as likely to have contemplated suicide as those who haven’t encountered it (8% vs. 3%, respectively).
• Those who have “sexted” are four times more likely to have contemplated suicide than those who haven’t (12% vs. 3%, respectively).
• Young people who have been the target of digital bullying are twice as likely to report receiving treatment from a mental health professional, and are nearly three times as likely to have considered dropping out of school.
To access the full MTV/AP research findings, please go to http://www.research.ATHINLINE.org.
MTV’s “A THIN LINE,” launched today, is addressing digital abuse issues through a series of on-air, online and real world initiatives including integration in MTV’s top-rated programming, an MTV News special focused on Sexting, True Life: I have Digital Drama, thought-provoking PSAs, innovative online and mobile tools and the “Redraw the Line Challenge”—which calls on young people to submit innovative digital antidotes to digital abuse. Young people can access information, resources and support on issues related to digital abuse at http://www.ATHINLINE.org.
For more information on MTV’s “A THIN LINE” please head to http://www.ATHINLINE.org.
The MTV/ Associated Press research was conducted September 11, 2009 – September 22, 2009 and included interviews with 1,247 respondents ages 14 – 24, with a mean survey length of approximately 15 minutes. The survey was fielded online for the Associated Press and MTV by KnowledgePanel®, the only online panel that is representative of the U.S. population, bringing unprecedented reliability and statistical projectability to online survey research. KnowledgePanel members are randomly recruited by telephone through Random-Digit Dial (RDD) sampling and by mail through Address-Based Sampling (ABS), which better accounts for the growing number of cell-phone only households in the U.S.
About The Associated Press
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP. On the Net: http://www.ap.org
MTV is the dynamic, vibrant experiment at the intersection of music, creativity and youth culture. For over 28 years, MTV has evolved, challenged the norm, and detonated boundaries—giving each new generation a creative outlet and voice that entertains, informs and unites on every platform and screen. On-air, MTV is the number one rated full-day ad-supported cable network for P12-24. Online, MTV.com averaged 8.5 million monthly unique visitors during the first quarter of 2009—up +6% from Q4/2008 and up +6% year-over-year. Total video streams for the first quarter of 2009 increased 21% over the same time period last year. And MTV’s successful sibling networks MTV2, mtvU and MTV Tr3s each deliver unprecedented customized content, super-serving music fans, college students and young American Latinos like no one else. MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. Wanna know more? Come on in… http://www.mtvpress.com
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