New Poll: Young Internet Users Say Online Slurs Just Aren’t Cool

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November 22, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown

Many times people think they can get away with saying just about anything on social media. But that just isn’t the case. In fact, most young Americans say it’s wrong to use racist or sexist slurs online, even if it was supposedly a joke, reports The Grio.

According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV, a majority of teens and young adults who use the Internet say they sometimes view derogatory words and images targeting various groups. Often, they dismiss it as just joking around, not words meant to be hurtful.

“Americans ages 14 to 24 say people who are overweight are the most frequent target, followed by gay people. Next in line for online abuse: blacks and women,” reports The Grio.

And while the majority say they aren’t very offended by slurs in social media or cellphone text messages (including such inflammatory terms as “b!tch,” “f*g,” or the N-word), young people today are more disapproving of using slurs online.

In fact, nearly 6 in 10 say using discriminatory words or images is wrong, even as a joke. This is a different attitude than two years ago when only about half were so disapproving. But more than half of young users of YouTube, Facebook and gaming communities on Xbox Live and Steam say they sometimes or often view biased messages.

“Racial insults are not that likely to be seen as hurtful, yet a strong majority of those surveyed — 6 in 10 — felt comments and images targeting transgender people or Muslims are,” reports The Grio.

Slurs against gays, lesbians and bisexual people, and those aimed at people who are overweight are viewed as being mean-spirited.

However, surprisingly, the poll found that young people said they were less likely to ask someone to stop using hurtful language on a social networking site than face to face.

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