The number of 13-25 year olds who have experienced bullying via smartphones has doubled in the past year, according to a new survey.
Young people surveyed by anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label reported experiencing many forms of cyber bullying by both real-life acquaintances and strangers, often targeting their looks (40 per cent) or race, gender or sexuality (42 per cent).
Researchers found that cyber bullying can have a devastating impact on young people's emotional wellbeing and academic performance.
Almost a quarter of victims (24 per cent) confessed that they had self-harmed after being bullied, while 30 per cent said that it had distracted them from real life.
Despite the well-publicised risks of sharing personal details or images online, almost a quarter of the young people surveyed admitted to sending a nude photo to someone they met over the internet. Girls were twice as likely as boys to regularly share naked pictures.
The exact same percentage (24 per cent) said that they had had a naked picture of themselves shared without their consent, even though the most common recipient of explicit pictures was a boyfriend or girlfriend (63 per cent).
The most popular app used by young people was Snapchat, which allows users to send temporary photos which delete themselves after 10 seconds. This function can make it appear safe to send explicit images - but some phones have the ability to 'snapshot' an image, saving it permanently.
Claire Lilley, the head of Child Online Safety for the NSPCC, said that the findings were worrying but not surprising. "Sadly many children now see sexting as part of normal life with girls constantly being pestered to provide sexual pictures of themselves.
"It may seem harmless fun but it can often have a devastating end with images that were never intended to be shared being circulated to a massive audience. Some of the victims are so mortified by what has happened that they turn to self-harm."
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