WSFA/NBC - If you're a parent, it's likely you've talked to your kids about cyberbullying. What might come as a surprise is new research showing an alarming number of teenagers are bullying themselves online.
"There are enough people out there doing the bullying that we don't have to invite it into ourselves," said mom, Caro Johnson.
Professor Justin Patchin says in a first of its kind study, he and a fellow researcher at UW-Eau Claire found that out of 5,700 middle and high school students surveyed nationally, around six percent admitted to participating in digital self-harm.
Patchin said, "Basically digital self-harm is when somebody posts something hurtful online about themselves."
The data shows that the boys were more likely to say it was a joke or it wasn't that big of a deal while the girls were more likely to say the reason was more serious like depression or self-hate or looking to get a response from their friends kind of things.
Patchin says more research is needed but it's important for parents to keep open-communication and to have an open mind when talking about cyber-bullying with their children.
"Whether a child is being bullied online by a peer or if they're posting hurtful comments or threats online about themselves there's an issue there that needs to be resolved and they really do need an adult that they can trust to guide them through that," said Patchin.