Measuring cyberbullying and other online risks for children

26 October 2017

Global Kids Online is an international research project that aims to generate and sustain a rigorous cross-national evidence base around children’s use of the internet by creating a global network of researchers and experts. It was developed as a collaborative initiative between the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the EU Kids Online network. Amongst other things, the project aims to advance understanding on how the internet amplifies the risk of cyberbullying, including online discrimination. 

Research framework and data collection tools

Global Kids Online adopts a research framework for online risks and opportunities that takes a child rights approach building on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and prioritising children’s own voices and experiences. The project follows the established research practice of asking children for a self-assessment of whether online risks bothered or upset them.

The project developed a global research toolkit that enables users to improve data and evidence on the nature, extent and impact of online bullying. It identifies a wide range of online risks for children, like receiving hate messages, being treated or treating others in a hurtful way, being excluded from online groups or being threatened. The toolkit is freely available on the Global Kids Online website, together with research findings. Readers can also sign up for updates.

Findings                                                                                                                          

The percentage of 9-17 year old internet users reporting negative experience including cyberbullying in the internet use was 77% in Argentina (for the age group 13-17), 35% in Serbia, 20% in South Africa and 29% in the Philippines. (See Figure 1). The country level findings of Argentina show that, in focus groups, adolescents mention cyberbullying most often as a negative experience. To a lesser extent, they reference other specific forms of discrimination.

Figure 1. Percentage of children who use the internet aged 9-17 (except 13-17 in Argentina) reporting having negative online experiences in the past year

See more country-level findings from ArgentinaBrazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Montenegro, SerbiaSouth Africa and the Philippines by following the links. Ghana and Uruguay are currently carrying out representative surveys.

This article was prepared based on the contribution made by Sonia Livingstone and Jasmina Byrne, at the request of UNESCO to make available data evidence on the SDG target 4.a.2. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and should not be attributed to UNESCO.