Six out of 10 people who experience online bullying or trolling never report it to the social network involved, new research reveals.
More than a third said they did not report the behaviour because they felt no action would be taken.
The 'Trolled Nation' study also found trolling is now more prevalent than real-life bullying with 49% of teens experiencing bullying offline, compared with the 65% online. A third reported their experiences of it lasted more than a month.
Related: Keeping children safe online - why most parents get it wrong
Emma-Jane Cross, founder of charity BeatBullying, said: "We work with hundreds of young people being cyberbullied or trolled so badly that it can lead to depression, truancy, self-harm, or even force them to contemplate or attempt suicide. What's also concerning is that many young people could be suffering in silence.
"The most important thing for young people to remember is not to ignore it. If you see cyberbullying going on, report it to the site concerned. If you're being cyberbullied, always save any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos you receive or see. Never respond or retaliate, as this can just make things worse, and block any users that send you nasty messages."
Just one in five of those questioned for the research carried out by knowthenet.org.uk said they would go straight to a parent or guardian when confronted by internet bullies with a paltry 1% admitting they'd trust a teacher enough to tell them first.
The Trolled Nation study also revealed older teens are more likely to be affected than younger ones with 19-year-old men the most likely to fall victim – with one in five teens saying they've either experienced or witnessed offensive comments online.
But while a whopping 9 in 10 admitted experiencing problems on Facebook, other sites and apps involved included Twitter (19%) and BlackBerry Messenger (13%) along with Ask.fm, Bebo and WhatsApp
A Facebook spokesman said: "We have a real name policy and provide our users with industry leading tools to block people or report content which they find threatening so that we can remove it quickly."
Various reporting tools are available on the site next to different pieces of content and anything breaching its rules - shown at facebook.com/policies – is removed. Users can find all of Facebook's Safety information here [www.facebook.com/safety]
Both Twitter and BlackBerry declined to make an official comment but the micro-blogging network pointed to the following pages showing its rules [https://support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-abuse-or-policy-violations/topics/121-guidelines-best-practices/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules] and reporting process [https://support.twitter.com/groups/33-report-abuse-or-policy-violations].
Online advice for users of BlackBerry Messenger suggest not to publicly reveal a BBM PIN on social networks as this could allow anyone to add you as a 'Friend'. BBM pictures could also be copied and used elsewhere. However, users of the service can be blocked by selecting "Ignore future invitations' when deleting a BBM contact.
Phil Kingsland, of knowthenet.org.uk, said parents must take an interest in what their children are doing online in order to help in the battle.
He said: "Parents may find it frustrating that children spend so much time absorbed with their smartphone or on social networks. It's precisely because of the importance of these networks to youngsters that they can also cause great distress.
"Understanding the potential impact trolls can have on teenagers is the first step to engaging with your youngsters about this, and helping them to deal with these issues. It's important that action is taken quickly and parents and teachers work together to monitor and deal with the issue."
Knowthenet.org.uk offers the following advice to tackle trolls or bullying.
1. Don't feed the trolls – trolls feed off your response so whatever you do, never reply.
2. Tell a mate, a teacher, a parent or someone you trust about it as soon as possible.
3. Collect evidence of email or message trails in case it gets more serious. You can find a checklist of what to keep at www.knowthenet.org.uk/trolling
1. Listen to your teenager and discuss the problem they're having.
2. Help your child with the practical elements of gathering evidence but be respectful of their privacy so ask before reading their messages.
3. Support your child in reporting the abuse to the social network, online messaging service, or even the authorities and keep monitoring the situation on a regular basis.