The State of US Cyberbullying in 2023

Alex Popa

By Alex Popa . 18 November 2023

Cybersecurity Journalist

Miklos Zoltan

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Cyberbullying is one of the most common forms of cybercrime but it’s often the most ignored.

According to Statista, the cyberbullying victimization rate in the US is 36.5% among middle and high school students as of April 2019.

It’s at an all-time high, too, from 33.8% in August of 2016.

As of 2018, 59% of all US teenagers have experienced a type of cyberbullying, while 16% of them have received direct physical threats.

It’s quite clear that it’s a phenomenon that shouldn’t be ignored because it has grown in scope and intensity in recent years.

Below, I’ll go over the specifics of cyberbullying, show its prevalence in key areas in the US, present a few details about awareness, and talk about prevention measures.

Cyberbullying Encounter Rate in the US in 2018, by Gender

First, let’s take a look at the percentage of US internet users who have experienced cyberbullying in 2018, by their gender, as well as the type of cyberbullying.

Type of Cyberbullying Percentage of US Teenagers
Any Type of Cyberbullying 59% male
60% female
Offensive Name Calling 42% male
41% female
Spreading of False Rumors 26% male
39% female
Receiving Explicit Images They Didn’t Ask For 20% male
29% female
Constant Asking of Where They Are, What They’re Doing, Who They’re With, by Someone Other Than a Parent 18% male
23% female
Physical Threats 16% male
16% female
Having Explicit Images of Them Shared Without Consent 5% male
9% female

Over half of US teenagers have experienced cyberbullying in 2018, while 42% have been name-called, and 16% of them have been physically threatened.

The Cyberbullying Research Center notes that the percentage of students who are reporting cyberbullying has increased to 55% since 2015 and has more than tripled ever since 2007.

It also looks like girls are the most common targets of cyberbullying across all types of bullying.

A 2021 Pew Research Center study shows that around 41% of all US adults have experienced online harassment and 25% claimed to have experienced severe online harassment.

Cyberbullying has become one of the most common cybercrimes in the US, and it has taken a clear turn for the worse in recent years.

And this is especially true for adolescents or students, where cyberbullying is much more common and effective.

Cyberbullying Rate in US Middle and High School Students in May 2007 – April 2019

Now, let’s look at a cyberbullying victimization rate taken from Statista that shows the state of cyberbullying in middle school and high school students in the US.

The data looks at the May 2007 – April 2019 period and it was created in July 2019.

Period Cyberbullying Rate
May 2007 18.8%
June 2009 (District A) 21.5%
June 2009 (District B) 24.2%
November 2009 28.7%
February 2010 20.8%
December 2011 29.2%
October 2013 24.1%
January 2014 34.6%
February 2015 34%
August 2016 33.8%
April 2019 36.5%

The latest data (April 2019) shows that around 36.5% of all middle and high school students in the US have been the victims of cyberbullying.

It’s the highest-ever recorded victimization rate in the country, which shows that this phenomenon has become worse over the years.

With the increasing popularity of the internet, the emergence of TikTok, and the digitization of every aspect of life, cyberbullying has exploded.

This is especially true in the US, where the population is ever-so-connected to the online environment.

Online Platforms with the Highest Degree of Cyberbullying in the US in January 2021

Cyberbullying takes place across every online platform but there’s a massive difference in how common this phenomenon is on some platforms.

See below:

Platform Percentage of Cyberbullying Victims
Facebook 75%
Twitter 24%
Instagram 24%
YouTube 21%%
Snapchat 15%%
WhatsApp 11%%
TikTok 9%
Reddit 9%
Discord 7%
Twitch 6%
8chan 5%
Gab 3%

The vast majority of cyberbullying victims in the US were on Facebook (75%) in the January 2021 period.

This survey from Statista had 2,251 respondents who were 18 or older, and the survey period stretched between January 7 and January 15.

Twitter and Instagram ranked second, each with 24% of cyberbullying victims claiming that they’d been harassed on each platform.

It’s interesting to see that Reddit, a platform known for its liberal and controversial environment, ranks so low with 9% of cyberbullying victims.

But Facebook being the most popular social media platform, it’s not surprising to see that it has the most cyberbullying.

Adults aged 18-29 are the most targeted group of cyberbullying, with politics being the most common reason for this. In 2020, 55% of all US internet users claimed that they had experienced harassment and bullying because of their political views.

It all comes back to politics in the US, no matter how you look at things.

Impact of Cyberbullying and Harassment on US Internet Users in January 2020

Now let’s take a look at the consequences of cyberbullying and only harassment on US internet users.

Statista gives us a running start with a survey conducted in January 2020 with 1,974 respondents.

Here’s what it found:

Consequences of Cyberbullying Percentage of US Internet Users
Stopped, Reduced, or Changed Online Activity 36%
Trouble Sleeping, Concentrating, or Feeling Anxious 25%
Contacted Platform for Help 18%
Depressive or Suicidal Thoughts 11%
Took Steps to Reduce Risk to Physical Safety 10%
Adverse Economic Impact 8%
Contacted Police for Help 5%
Contacted Police for Contacted Attorney to File a Lawsuit 2%

Around 36% of US cyberbullying victims had to modify their online activities and 25% had trouble sleeping and experienced anxiety.

11% even had depressive or suicidal thoughts as a consequence of cyberbullying on the internet.

Lastly, around 5% had to call the police and 2% even filed a lawsuit to get away from cyberbullying. These are severe forms of online harassment that have become quite common nowadays.

Global Awareness of Cyberbullying as of April 2018

Cyberbullying has turned into a global phenomenon that impacts the lives of countless young people and continues to make victims today.

Tackling it first requires awareness, though. Let’s see how cyberbullying awareness looks like worldwide:

Country Respondents
Total 75%
Italy 91%
Sweden 91%
Chile 89%
South Africa 88%
Mexico 87%
Argentina 86%
Malaysia 85%
Serbia 85%
United States 85%
Canada 85%
Poland 84%
Spain 84%
Peru 81%
Hungary 81%
Australia 80%
Brazil 79%
Germany 78%
Romania 77%
Belgium 75%
Great Britain 71%
China 65%
India 63%
Turkey 60%
South Korea 59%
Russia 56%
Japan 56%
France 50%
Saudi Arabia 37%

Italy and Sweden are at the top of the list with 91% awareness of cyberbullying among respondents (aged 16+).

The global awareness average is 75%, which could be worse but it could also be better. The awareness is particularly low in countries like China, India, Russia, France, and especially Saudi Arabia (37%).

According to Ipsos, “the percentage of parents who report having a child or knowing a child in their community who has experienced cyberbullying has increased globally since 2011”.

The same study found that 65% of parents whose child has been cyberbullied, or they know of a child who has been cyberbullied, report that the harassment takes place on social media.

Italy has seen the greatest increase in cyberbullying awareness, from 57% in 2011 to 91% in 2018.

Mallory Newall, the Director of Ipsos, reported in 2018 that “One in six parents globally report having a child who has been cyberbullied. In the US, that number is even higher with one in four parents reporting that their own child has been cyberbullied. One explanation for this could be the increasing use of social media among youth.

This seems like the most probable reason for how common cyberbullying has become in recent years.

Global Facebook Actioned Bullying and Harassment Content 2018 – 2023

We’ve seen how spread cyberbullying is, the level of awareness at the global level, and the type of impact it has on teens around the world.

It’s also clear that Facebook is the centerpiece of all online cyberbullying. So, in this section, I’ll show you the amount of cyberbullying content that Facebook has actioned in the 2018-2023 period.

Period Cyberbullying Content Actioned
Q3 2018 2 million
Q4 20198 2.7 million (+35%)
Q1 2019 2.4 million (-11.11%)
Q2 2019 2.5 million (+4.16%)
Q3 2019 3.2 million (+28%)
Q4 2019 2.8 million (-12.5%)
Q1 2020 2.3 million (-17.85%)
Q2 2020 1.4 million (-39.13%)
Q3 2020 2.4 million (+71.42%)
Q4 2020 5.7 million (+137.5%)
Q1 2021 8.8 million (+54.38%)
Q2 2021 7.9 million (-10.22%)
Q3 2021 9.2 million (+16.45%)
Q4 2021 8.2 million (-10.86%
Q1 2022 9.5 million (+15.85%)
Q2 2022 8.2 million (13.68%)
Q3 2022 6.6 million (-19.51%)
Q4 2022 6.4 million (-3%)
Q1 2023 6.9 million (+7.81%)
Q2 2023 7.9 million (+14.49%

From Q3 to Q2 2023, Facebook has actioned no less than 107 million cybersecurity content items, an increase of 259.09%.

This rapid increase of bans is likely caused by:

  • The increase in awareness of cyberbullying online
  • The increasing reports by victims of cyberbullying
  • The rising awareness about the impact of cyberbullying
  • The increase in cyberbullying content on Facebook

Between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, Facebook started removing cyberbullying content in much greater quantity than before.

It’s good to see that Facebook is dealing with this issue, especially for those vulnerable. Cyberbullying is most definitely a phenomenon we have to fight against.

What Can We Do to Stop Cyberbullying?

One thing to remember is that cyberbullying will exist as long as the internet exists. There’s no stopping it entirely because there will always be frustrated people online.

Parents can teach their children to identify cyberbullying early on and either talk about it or report it.

According to RIIRO, among the main causes of cyberbullying, we can name the following:

  • Lack of parental supervision or awareness about their children’s online activities
  • Lack of experience regarding the internet and computers
  • Lack of knowledge about appropriate and wrong online behavior
  • Low self-esteem for both the victims and the bullies
  • Dysfunctional families tend to foster cyberbullying in their children

Dealing with the elements above should help us put cyberbullying behind but this won’t be solved in a day.

Increasing cyber awareness about all things online is a big reason for why cyberbullying goes unnoticed most times. Parents don’t know how to identify this phenomenon and don’t know what a healthy behavior online is and what’s undesirable.

There’s also the fact that children are left unsupervised online, and below a certain age, they’re not able to assess the risk they expose themselves to.


StatistaLifetime Cyber Bullying Victimization Rate Among Middle and High School Students in the United States from May 2007 to April 2019
StatistaPercentage of Teenagers in the United States Who Have Experienced Selected Types of Cyber Bullying as of April 2018
StatistaPercentage of Teenagers in the United States Who Have Experienced Selected Types of Cyber Bullying as of April 2018, by Gender
Exploding Topics17 Scary Cyberbullying Statistics (2023)
Pew Research The State of Online Harassment
StatistaOnline Environments Where Cyber Bullying Victims in the United States Have Been Harassed as of January 2021
StatistaReasons for Online Hate According to Online Harassment Victims in the United States as of January 2020
StatistaConsequences of Online Hate and Harassment According to Internet Users in the United States as of January 2020
StatistaOverall Awareness of Cyber Bullying in Select Countries Worldwide as of April 2018, by Country
PSOSGlobal Views on Cyberbullying
StatistaActioned Bullying and Harassment Content Items on Facebook Worldwide from 3rd Quarter 2018 to 2nd Quarter 2023
StatistaCyberbullying: Causes, Effects, and Remedies

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