The following study uses data collected by our video chat web platform and mobile application, Chatki, in combination with statistics and data from various studies and sources which you can find in the “Works Cited” section at the end of this research study. All data collected by Chatki was done so anonymously between January 2017 and August 2017. Randomly selected users of the Chatki video chat platform had the opportunity to participate in a survey. The results of the questions asked are present throughout this research study.
Chatki is a random video chat platform that operates both via a web browser and through dedicated mobile applications. The platform facilitates thousands of random connections daily, catering to hundreds of thousands of users on a weekly basis. Chatki aims to provide a fun and exciting way to meet new people online. Chakti achieves this by offering an entirely free service where people can meet strangers from around the world using the webcam on their computer or mobile device.
The nature of Chatki makes the service an enjoyable way to meet people online in a safe, anonymous environment. As such, Chatki wanted to look into the effect socializing online in this type of environment has on shy, bullied, or low-confidence young adults with the results shown in this research study. The primary purpose of this study is to explore what, if any, impact Chatki has had in helping reduce stress, depression, and low-confidence in young adults.“...the explosion of social media and the pressure to maintain an online presence has led to a whole new breed of cyberbullying.”
While shyness and bullying are not intrinsically linked, both can result in low-confidence and depression, particularly in young adults. Bullying is not a new epidemic and has been part of society for many years. However, the explosion of social media and the pressure to maintain an online presence has led to a whole new breed of cyberbullying. The pressure to maintain an online presence is perhaps the most dangerous challenge that bullying has ever dealt with due to the ability of people to remain anonymous while bullying helpless victims. Whereas someone who suffers from bullying at school can at least go home and escape the torture for a period, cyberbullying can affect someone 24 hours a day.
A report conducted by the journal JAMA Pediatrics in August 2015 looked into the prevalence and effect of cyberbullying on children and young people. The study searched 11 electronic databases and was screened by two independent reviewers, with data extracted by one reviewer then verified by another. The report found that 23% of young adults say they are or have been the target of cyberbullying. A further 15% admitted to bullying someone online. The report also found that responses to cyberbullying were often passive, with victims possessing a lack of awareness or confidence to do anything about it.
Another report published by the National Institute of Health estimated that 2.2 million adolescents or 9.1% of the teenage population in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Further to this, between 5% and 8% of teenagers in the United States have attempted suicide yearly, and an additional 16% have considered the possibility. Suicide is the third leading cause of death of people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 92% of young adults go online daily, with 24% of those reporting they are online “almost constantly.”
These statistics are truly frightening and show how Cyberbullying is an epidemic terrorizing the young adults of the United States. The fact that more than nine in ten young adults go online daily also indicates that stopping online activity is not a solution. Rather, finding a way to help young adults increase confidence and avoid unsociable areas online is the path to take.
The results of bullying and cyberbullying are often depression, shyness, and a severe lack of confidence. A report published in Psychology Today offers an insight into how young adults can overcome shyness.“To recover from shyness requires the courage of counter-intuitive decision-making. ...we must choose to act in non-fearful, confident, and outgoing ways.”
This method of overcoming shyness can also be applied to young adults suffering from a lack of confidence and even depression. By choosing to act in a non-fearful and friendly way, young adults can gradually build up confidence and overcome their shyness, depression, anxiety, and lack of confidence. One such method of acting in a non-fearful way is to interact live, and in real-time via video chat with a person, one has never met before. If the conditions are right (i.e., the environment is safe, fun, and the interactions are positive), real results can be achieved.
The purpose of using this data in the study is to demonstrate the growing epidemic of bullying both online and in person and to show that positive social interaction is widely considered as a positive step for those who are victims of any bullying. To this end, in the next section of this study, we will look at survey results taken anonymously by Chatki to see if video chat can offer young adults an opportunity to build confidence and overcome shyness and depression.
The idea behind this survey is that encouragement for shy, bullied, and little confidence young adults to talk about their problems in the open could result in an increase in confidence and happiness. One such way of encouragement is to talk to strangers using Chatki’s video chat platform. To help understand what, if any, effect this has taken on Chatki users, Chatki anonymously surveyed users of their service between January 2017 and August 2017. As randomly selected users were logging on to the Chatki platform, they were met with an optional survey in which they could participate. The survey consisted of the following questions:
Of the 250,000 users surveyed, 120,000 fell into the correct age range (18-25) for this study. Within the 120,000 users who fell into the right age range, 35% answered yes when asked if they had experienced bullying either online or in the real world. It is the data gathered from this sample of 42,000 users on Chatki that is relevant for this study and presented below.
The second question on the survey asked users how many times they have used Chatki in the past. This question is relevant as users who are new to the platform are much less likely to have experienced any long-term positive benefits, whereas regular or long-term users of the platform are more likely to have experienced any benefits. The three tables below show the results of the sample users split into three groups: people who have used Chatki less than 5 times, individuals who have used Chatki between 6 and 20 times, and individuals who have used Chatki more than 20 times.
There is a clear pattern in the data above. The average rating for each question steadily increases when answered by people who have used Chatki more often. By analyzing this data we can clearly see that as people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have experienced bullying either online or in the real world use Chatki more often their levels of confidence increase, they become less shy, and they experience an improved mood. People who have used Chatki more than 20 times have continually selected high scores for each of the categories, indicating that regularly using the video chat platform has had a positive effect on their lives.
The final question in the survey asked users to select one of more statements which they felt had contributed to an increase in confidence, overcoming shyness, an improved mood, or all three. Participants in the survey could select none or all of the statements as desired. Of the 42,000 participants, only 1,200 decided not to select any of the declarations. The remainder all selected at least one of the statements.
As is evident from the table above there are two statements which were selected much more than the others. “Knowing that you are anonymous on the video chat” and “meeting people who have experienced similar situations” were both selected as the main reasons why people felt increased levels of confidence, as a way to overcome shyness, and reasons why Chatki helped them feel in a better mood. It is interesting that being anonymous was the most selected option. It seems that Chatki offers bullied young people an opportunity to escape from their reality and reinvent themselves without the judgment of others.
The other most selected option was meeting people who have experienced similar situations. Once again it seems that by meeting strangers who can relate to their experiences, bullied teens can realize they are not the only ones and feel better about themselves.
The data gathered from Chatki’s study backs up the opinion that having courage act in a non-fearful way could be a solution for reducing depression, overcoming shyness, and improving one’s mood. What is more courageous than connecting face to face via video chat with a person you have never met before?
The sample used for this study shows that it is possible to overcome confidence issues, shyness, and depression by confronting those fears on video chat. The anonymous element of Chatki allows bullied young people to escape their bad feelings and reinvent themselves with confidence. The ability to talk to complete strangers who have experienced similar issues can help to overcome shyness and even improve one’s mood. Chatki will continue improve its video chat service as a haven for those who have experienced bullying in all forms. The hope for the future is that people will continue to use Chatki as a way of overcoming the effects of bullying and as a tool to improve their confidence, shyness, and mood.