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60% Of Kids Experience Harassment While Gaming Online—And Many Are Exposed To White Supremacy, Survey Finds

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 15, 2021


Most children say they have experienced some form of harassment while gaming online, according to an Anti-Defamation League report published Wednesday that also notes “alarmingly high” levels of harassment among adult gamers.

Key Facts

The anti-hate group said the amount of harassment reported by adult gamers increased for the third year in a row in its survey of 2,206 Americans, with 83% of those between 18 and 45 years old saying they experienced harassment in online multiplayer games. 

A vast majority (71%) of the harassment qualifies as “severe abuse,” including physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment, according to the ADL, a three-point jump from the amount reported by respondents in 2020. 

The groups reporting the biggest increases in harassment included women (49% said they’d been harassed in 2021 compared to 41% in 2020), Black Americans (52% in 2021 compared to 31% in 2020) and Asian Americans (38% in 2021 compared to 26% in 2020). 

The ADL found that three in five (60%) respondents between the ages of 13 and 17 experienced harassment in online multiplayer games, in the first time the group has surveyed children on the subject. 

Some 10% of young respondents said they have been exposed to white supremacy while gaming, verus 8% of adults. 

A quarter of  young people reported hiding their identity at all times to avoid harassment online, while 40% said they sometimes hide their identity. 

Big Number 

59%. That’s the percentage of adult gamers who said laws should be created to “increase transparency around how game companies address hate, harassment and extremism,” according to the ADL. 

Crucial Quote 

This research “reveals a deeply disturbing trend,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Teenage gamers are harassed almost as often as adult gamers … By allowing this harassment of young people to continue, we risk children feeling that they should be ashamed of who they are.” 

Key Background 

The ADL compares the gaming industry’s struggle with online harassment to that of social media companies. There has been mounting public and government pressure in recent years for social media sites to stamp out abuse among users—and major companies have made many changes to address these problems. The same level of scrutiny has not reached the gaming industry, the ADL says, despite the large number of gamers: nearly 227 million Americans. There has, however, been a new spotlight turned to allegations of sexism and mistreatment of women in the video gaming industry, like at gaming company Activision Blizzard, which in June was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over a flurry of allegations of discrimination and sexism against female employees.

Further Reading

“Activision Blizzard Lawsuit Alleges Horrific Mistreatment Of Women” (Forbes)

“Activision Blizzard Hit With Complaint That It Illegally Thwarted Unionization Drive” (Forbes)


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