Young people are more likely to use slurs online, and most see discriminatory language as joking, according to an Associated Press-MTV poll of 14- to 24-year-olds conducted nationwide in 2011.
Seventy-one percent say they are more likely to use slurs online or in text messages than in person.
Also, most young people don’t worry about whether the words they post on their cellphones and laptops could reach a wider audience or get them in trouble, according to the ABC Action News article.
"People have that false sense of security that they can say whatever they want online," Lori Pletka, 22, told the reporters.
Although most people see slurs as joking — 57 percent say people are "trying to be funny" — a significant number of youth are getting upset, especially when they are in the group being targeted.
Cyberbullying continues to be a problem. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed say they see people being mean to others on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. And 51 percent encounter discriminatory words or images on those sites.
Those who are the most targeted are overweight people, Muslims and gays.
Young people say its OK to use mean language within their own circle of friends because, “I know we don’t mean it.” Yet four out of 10 young people have given little or no thought to how easily their text and online messages could be spread.
Going further, attempts to cut down on offensive language don’t seem to be working.
Despite a public service announcement ad campaign to stamp out anti-gay slang, two-thirds of young people still see “that’s so gay” being used. Similarly, an effort to steer kids away from using the word retard hasn’t worked. Half of those surveyed don’t find the word even moderately bothersome.