HPU Poll: Most North Carolinians Have Seen Social Media Users Intimidate Others

HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 14, 2018 – A recent HPU Poll finds that majorities (54 percent) of North Carolinians have seen someone try to socially or physically intimidate another person through the use of social media. About one-third (36 percent) said that they have not seen this type of behavior, and 10 percent are not sure.

When asked if you add up all the advantages and disadvantages of the internet, half of the respondents (50 percent) said it has been mostly a good thing, and almost two in five (38 percent) said some of both a good thing and a bad thing. A firm 10 percent said that the internet has been mostly a bad thing.

Almost two-thirds of poll respondents (63 percent) said that they strongly disagree or disagree when asked if they have felt a reduced sense of self-worth due to things that have been said to them on social media. North Carolinians (44 percent) strongly agree or agree that people who are being bullied on social media should just unplug.

The poll asked how good a job different groups are doing when it comes to addressing online harassment and bullying. Respondents said that parents (37 percent), law enforcement (37 percent), and teachers (35 percent) are doing an excellent or good job. They also said that social media sites (63 percent), elected officials (59 percent) and other users witnessing harassing behavior (55 percent) are doing only a fair or poor job.

While two in five (40 percent) poll respondents indicated that they have been called offensive names online or on their cell phone, majorities did not experience someone sending explicit images (65 percent), someone other than a parent constantly asking where they were, who they were with, or what they were doing (70 percent), someone spreading false rumors (70 percent), being physically threatened (79 percent), and someone sharing explicit images of them without their consent (85 percent).

Four out of five (80 percent) of our poll respondents told us that they use social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat.

“A large percentage of our poll participants told us that they use social media, and 50 percent said that all things considered, the internet has been mostly a good thing,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct instructor of survey research methods. “When it comes to being bullied or harassed, poll participants think that parents, teachers and law enforcement are doing an excellent or good job. But overall, elected officials, social media sites and other users who witness behavior get lower marks.”

All adults – Advantage/Disadvantages of the Internet (October 2018)

Overall, when you add up all the advantages and disadvantages of the internet, would you say the internet has been mostly a good thing or a bad thing?

Good thing – 50 percent

Bad thing – 10 percent

(Some of both) – 38 percent

(Don’t know/refuse) – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Social Media Types (October 2018)

Do you use social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat?

Yes – 80 percent

No – 20 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Social Media Intimidation (October 2018)

Have you ever seen someone try to socially or physically intimidate another person through the use of social media?

Yes – 54 percent

No – 36 percent

(Not sure) – 10 percent

(Prefer not to respond) – 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Social Media Outcomes (October 2018)

Please tell me to what extent you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.  Would you say you strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree or strongly disagree?

  Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree (Don’t know/ refuse)
I have felt a reduced sense of self-worth due to things that have been said to me on social media 7 8 15 25 38 7
People who are being bullied on social media should just unplug 21 23 19 18 14 6

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Experiences Online or on Cell Phone (October 2018)

Still thinking about your experiences online or on your cell phone, which of the following if any has ever happened to you personally?

[Note: Each respondent was presented with a randomized selection of half of the statements]

  Yes No (Don’t know/ Refuse)
Been called offensive names 40 58 2
Had someone send you explicit images you did not ask for 33 65 2
Had someone other than a parent constantly ask you where you were, who you were with, or what you were doing 29 70 1
Had someone spread false rumors about you 28 70 2
Been physically threatened 21 79 1
Had someone share explicit images of you without your consent 14 85 2

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

All adults – Addressing Social Media (October 2018)

As far as you know, how good a job are each of the following groups doing when it comes to addressing online harassment and bullying? Would you say excellent, good, only fair or poor?

[Note: Each respondent was presented with a randomized selection of half of the statements]

  Excellent Good Only fair Poor (Don’t know/ Refuse)
Parents 12 25 29 21 14
Law enforcement 9 28 27 20 17
Teachers 8 27 31 15 20
Social media sites 7 15 29 34 14
Other users who witness behavior 6 22 30 25 17
Elected officials 4 14 24 35 23

(All adult (North Carolina resident) phone and online sample, surveyed Oct. 26 – Nov. 1, 2018, n = 842 and credibility interval of +/- 4.1 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2018 and an online survey fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from a total of 842 adults who were either interviewed online (285 respondents) and landline or cellular telephones (557 respondents). The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using its Qualtrics platform. This is a combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews. The online sampling is from a panel of respondents, so their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classical margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points to account for a traditional 95 percent confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.4 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.2 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race, and education level based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2018/11/62memoA.pdf.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, chair and associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll and Brian McDonald is the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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