Online Harassment All Too Common: Report

Pew Data

Nearly three-quarters of Internet users have seen someone harassed online, while 40 percent have been the targets of such abuse, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

Those statistics should come as no surprise to anyone who spends significant amounts of time online, especially in light of the recent “Gamergate” controversy. Some 27 percent of those targeted said the harassment took the form of being called offensive names; another 22 percent said that someone had tried to publicly embarrass them; 8 percent reported being physically threatened, with as many saying they’d been stalked.

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“In broad trends, the data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking,” read Pew’s report on the data, which came from an online survey of 2,849 Americans.

The majority of harassment (66 percent) took place on social networking sites and apps, while 22 percent happened on website comment-sections, 16 percent in online gaming environments, 16 percent via personal email, 10 percent on discussion sites, and 6 percent on online dating sites and apps.

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Pew’s data could counter the assumption that the majority of virulent harassment takes place in online games. While virtually nobody surveyed by Pew (3 percent) felt the gaming industry was more welcoming toward women than men, a slight majority (51 percent) felt it was equally welcoming toward both.

A recent study by the Entertainment Software Association suggested that more adult women play video games than teenage boys; perhaps more surprising to anyone who believes the video-game industry skews young and male, the number of female gamers aged 50 and over rose 32 percent between 2012 and 2013. This is due in large part to the burgeoning popularity of casual games available on iOS and Android, such as Candy Crush Saga.

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Image: Pew Research Center