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#BeStrong: New emoji suite offers support for teens in fight against online bullying

Posted by Francis O' Toole on September 22, 2015

#BeStrong1
#BeStrong

One in four Irish teens has been cyberbullied, according to a new survey.

The incidence is higher than in other countries, where one in five teens (13-18 year-olds) reported being the target of online harassment.

Almost half (45pc) of the Irish teens said they felt helpless when it happened to them with 29pc admitting to feeling completely alone.

As many as 25pc, one in four of those who had been cyberbullied, went so far as to experience suicidal thoughts as a result.

The figures have emerged in a global survey of almost 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries  including Ireland conducted by pollsters, YouGov on behalf of telecoms company, Vodafone.

The survey found that 60pc of Irish teenagers think cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying and over half , 51pc,  believe it to be a bigger problem than drug abuse for young people.

Nine in ten, 90pc, Irish teens said they would find it easier to cope with cyberbullying if they received support from their friends on social media. However four in ten, 41pc, admitted that they would find it hard to find the right words to support a friend who was being bullied online.

The findings were released at the launch of Vodafone’s #BeStrong anti-cyberbullying initiative, which aims to build emotional resilience amongst teens online.

The initiative includes the creation of a suite of ‘support emojis’ for teens to use to convey compassion, sympathy and support when friends are being bullied online.

The emojis were chosen by the 5,000 teens surveyed from a wide selection designed by Vodafone and its anti-bullying panel, which included Berkeley University, California  Professor Dacher Keltner – the psychologist who advised on the creation of the characters for Pixar film Inside Out.

Speaking at the launch, Education Minister Jan O’ Sullivan said the research and the #Bestrong initiative would prove beneficial to everyone working in this important area.

“One of the main themes to emerge from the research is that teenagers want to help and support each other when a friend is being bullied online.  Giving teenagers an additional communication tool to achieve that goal, through the use of emojis, is a great initiative”, she said.

The emojis are available for download here.

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