Most of us, at some point, have been on the receiving end of a nasty comment or a hurtful DM on Social media. A new study conducted by Ditch The Label, an anti-bullying charity, has highlighted that cyber-bullying is becoming a growing malady in the virtual world.

Cyberbullying is similar to other forms of bullying, except it takes place online. Most common forms of online bullying include sending hurtful or intimidating messages via text or email, posting offensive comments or hacking a person’s social media account and sending inappropriate/ unwanted posts or messages posing as that person.

The study that surveyed over 10,000 young people aged 12-20 stated that around 70% of youngsters confessed to being abusive towards another person on the Internet while 17% claimed to have been bullied online.

Instagram is the most common social media platform for cyber-bullying, the latest research pointed out. More than 40% of youngsters have faced online bullying on the photo-sharing app. Meanwhile, 37% report being bullied on Facebook, and 31% on Snapchat.

In an issued statement, Instagram Policy Chief, Michelle Napchan, said that the site has “recently invested heavily in new technology” to help make the photo-sharing app “a safe and supportive place." Instagram also mentioned that it encourages users to report any incident of cyberbullying that occurs on the Facebook-owned app.

The Internet is redefining the dynamics of bullying

The research also added that posting nasty comments on photos and profile pictures, sending inappropriate private messages, and wrongly reporting a profile were some of the most common ways of bullying online.

"Not only is the internet redefining the climate of bullying, but also it is having clear impacts upon the identity, behaviours and personality of its young users," says Liam Hackett, Chief Executive of Ditch the Label, in a BBC report.

Earlier, in 2013, a Trolled Nation study had stated that Facebook is the worst social networking site when it comes to trolling and cyber-bullying. Over 80% of the teen participants bullied online reported that they were targeted on Facebook.

The most frequent victims of Internet bullying were 19-year-old boys, noted the researchers.

Cyber-bullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims, states National Crime Prevention Council, U.S. It also adds that Internet bullies often hide behind screen names and email addresses that don't identify who they are which can aggravate the victim's insecurity.

Traditional bullying and online bullying are closely linked

“Traditional bullying and cyber-bullying are closely related: those who are bullied at school are bullied online and those who bully at school bully online,” states a Cyberbullying Research Center report.

According to the Troll Nation study, only 37% youngsters who were bullied had reported it to the social media platform where the incident took place while a mere 17% said that their first reaction would be to share about the incident with their parents.

“Bullying both on and off-line continues to be a serious problem for a huge number of teenagers, and we cannot ignore its often devastating and tragic effects,” says Emma-Jane Cross, CEO, and founder of BeatBullying, in a DailyMail report.

Cyber-bullying can affect a youngster in numerous ways, from hurting their self-esteem, causing psychological problems like anger and anxiety and adversely affecting their academic performance/social life to triggering suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviours.

Unsurprisingly, cell phones are the most common medium for cyber-bullying

Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber-bullying, says The website also added that 1 in 4 youngsters had faced bullying more than once.

In 2014, a survey conducted by Cox Communication found that 54% of teenagers have witnessed online bullying at one point or the other. More than 60% admitted that they were targeted because of their appearance. Other common reasons in the report included intelligence/academic performance, race, religion, sexuality, and economic background.

The Atlanta-based organisation had surveyed 1,301 participants aged between 13 and 17.

Even though it’s a complicated issue, particularly for adults who aren’t much tech-savvy, cyber-bullying, like more typical forms of bullying, can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and parents are available to help, notes NCPC.

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the SupportLine telephone helpline at 01708 765200. You can also talk to your parents or a loved one or, seek professional help. It's important to know you're not beyond help and you're not alone.