New Global McAfee Cyberbullying Report Reveals Children Now Regularly Face Threats of Racism and Physical Harm Online

Global study finds the evolving definition and landscape of cyberbullying puts children at increased risks for more extreme threats than ever before


McAfee Global Cyberbullying Report "Cyberbullying in Plain Sight"

SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--Today, McAfee Corp., a global leader in online protection, released “Cyberbullying in Plain Sight” a global report which surveyed 11,687 parents and their children in ten countries to fully understand the extent of cyberbullying children face and highlight gaps in how parents manage these experiences. The report uncovers several disturbing global trends highlighting the changing dynamic of children’s lives online including the evolving definition, beliefs, and behaviors around cyberbullying.

The study aims to further McAfee’s commitment to helping connected families stay not only safe but also educated about behaviors that could put their families at risk for serious online threats. Findings reveal deeply concerning trends including global data showing that not only are children facing more violent threats online, but they are also being targeted at accelerated rates on some of their favorite and most-used social media and messaging platforms.

“While more than half of parents are talking to their children about different forms of cyberbullying, there is still vastly more that needs to be done to understand the growing threat of online safety for children,” said Gagan Singh, Executive Vice President, Chief Product & Revenue Officer, McAfee. “Parents are displaying important gaps of knowledge around cyberbullying but even more concerning, children aren’t considering behaviors like jokes and name-calling harmful online. Our mission with this research is to inform parents and families of what children are experiencing online and then empower parents to act where appropriate.”

McAfee’s 2022 Hidden in Plain Sight: More Dangers of Cyberbullying Emerge Report

This study follows McAfee’s Global Connected Family Study, which was released earlier this year and revealed cyberbullying among children was one of the biggest vulnerabilities that families face today. McAfee’s global research uncovered several new and consequential trends regarding cyberbullying including the types of bullying being reported, specific platforms that saw a global increase in cyberbullying, data around who is the perpetrator and victims of bullying online, and highlights tensions between how parents and children are defining the actions typically considered cyberbullying.

Globally, four topics emerged:

1. Cyberbullies aim racist attacks at children as young as ten: children report high rates of cyberbullying in its most severe forms including racism, sexual harassment, and threats of physical harm.

  • More than 1 in 4 kids globally face racist behavior online, and concerningly, 22% of kids as young as 10 years old are facing it around the world. In some countries (UK, Mexico and India), the threat is marginally greater for younger kids than the older kids. But in Canada, kids 10-year-old are twice as more likely to report online racism than their older counterparts.
  • Online sexual harassment continues to be a threat to kids with 1 in every 6 kids experiencing it globally. In the United States, sexual harassment is faced by 1 in every 5 kids and in India by 1 in every 3 kids. This is higher in India for girls, but both genders are almost equally vulnerable in the United States.
  • For 1 in every 8 kids globally, cyberbullying includes threats of physical harm. This number is more alarming for the United States and India where 1 in every 5 children faces this possibility.

2. Despite its efforts, Meta platforms remain among the most dangerous for cyberbullying: , children reported cyberbullying on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp platforms in greater numbers than other social media platforms.

  • Among Meta platforms, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app globally with more than 60% of kids using it. Facebook Messager is second highest with 4 in 10 kids actively using the platform.
  • There is a disproportionally high level of threat on Meta platforms as half of the children on TikTok and SnapChat report cyberbullying compared to almost 80% of children on Instagram.
  • This number is alarmingly high for Facebook with 53% of children globally who use the platform reporting cyberbullying, and 7 in 10 kids who use WhatsApp also reporting instances of cyberbullying.

3. Stranger is not the only danger: the threat of cyberbullying is higher from someone kids know personally.

  • Globally, 58% of kids said they were cyberbullied by someone they knew, compared to 46% who were cyberbullied by strangers.
  • Compared to last year, 6 in 10 kids globally said they were more worried about cyberbullying this year.
  • A majority of children globally (71%) have told their parents about being cyberbullied. This openness is even higher in the UK with 77% and in Europe with 73-78%.

4. Who's the cyberbully? It may be your child: parents worry their kid could be both a cyberbully and experiencing cyberbullying.

  • Globally, 3 in 4 parents (74%) are worried their child is being cyberbullied and more than 1 in 2 (58%) are also worried about their child being the perpetuator.
  • Less than 1 in 5 children globally believe they have cyberbullied someone, but when asked about specific activities, over 50% of children admit to one or more actions often considered to be cyberbullying.
  • In the United States, 1 in 4 children admitted to name-calling. In India, 1 in 2 children think they may have cyberbullied someone. In Mexico, although only 1 in 10 kids admitted to cyberbullying, almost a third of them said they made a joke about someone online.

“In today’s world parents must be more tech savvy than their children, said Ross Ellis, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, STOMP Out Bullying. “Most social media sites require children to be age 13 and older to use these sites, yet the majority of parents are the ones who sign up their children under the age of 13 for these accounts. Kids under 13 are not mature enough to handle the online hatred, physical danger and predator events that occur online. Kids need to feel comfortable online and only with the help, communication and guidance of their parents can kids feel safe. Cyberbullying can be dangerous so it’s not a one and done conversation. Parents must maintain open communications on a regular basis in order to keep kids safe.”

In more positive news, the survey reveals the fact that as threats are escalating, parents are acting, with 8 out of 10 parents educating themselves on cyberbullying and 6 in 10 deploying dual tactics including device monitoring and parental conversations with their children on the topic. However, only 1 in 3 parents are talking about cyberbullying in the form of Doxing (publishing private or identifying information without someone’s consent), Flaming (online arguments that often include personal attacks) or Outing (disclosing someone’s sexual orientation without their consent) which could stem from lack of understanding or awareness. Overall, this survey also uncovered the startling fact that many children take part in cyberbullying, often without realizing their behavior for what it is, while parents struggle to keep up.

What to Do When Your Child Faces Cyberbullying:

  • Turn to experts – reach out to organizations including STOMP Out Bullying or your local organizations to gather resources and knowledge about the mental health effects of bullying on children.
  • Create an environment of open and honest communication within your connected family. Demonstrate to your children that you understand these experiences can happen online, and that you will serve as a source of support and protection in their time of need.
  • Produce a family plan in the event of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, cyberbullying can occur to any child with a digital presence - ensure your family has a plan in place that has been communicated to the children themselves who experience life online and are at risk.
  • Educate yourself and children on what it really means to cyberbully – relay the message that making a joke at someone else’s expense or name calling online are types of bullying that need to and understand that today’s definition of cyberbullying is evolving.
  • Take action to protect your connected family. McAfee’s family plans include parental controls to help protect your children from inappropriate online behavior, apps, and content and build good digital habits

For more global findings, find the full report here.

Survey Methodology

The research was conducted between June 15th – July 5th, 2022, by Market Research Company MSI-ACI via email inviting parents of children in the age 10 – 18 to complete an online questionnaire. In total 11,687 parents and their children completed the survey from 10 countries included the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, India, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico. The parents were asked if their children between the ages of 10 – 18 years old were available to complete a survey. If yes, the parent was asked to complete a few questions themselves before turning over the survey to their child.

About McAfee

McAfee Corp. is a global leader in online protection for consumers. Focused on protecting people, not just devices, McAfee’s consumer solutions adapt to users’ needs in an always online world, empowering them to live securely through integrated, intuitive solutions that protect their families and communities with the right security at the right moment. For more information, please visit


Colton Hightower

Release Summary

Global study finds the evolving definition and landscape of cyberbullying puts children at increased risks for more extreme threats than ever before.


Colton Hightower