Teenagers and people in their 20s may feel more freedom to use racial slurs and insulting language online than they would in face-to-face conversation, but that doesn’t mean those words don’t still hurt, according to an AP-MTV poll, which surveyed 1,335 people between the ages of 14 and 24.

Half of the participants surveyed said they regularly saw discriminatory slang or racial taunts online, and those polled were twice as likely to say the language was meant to be funny. Fifty-four percent of the participants surveyed responded that using that type of language was OK  within their circle of friends because “I know we don’t mean it.” Seventy-five percent said they thought the “slurs against women are generally meant to be funny.”

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed thought that jokes about overweight people were intentionally mean or hurtful rather than said to be funny.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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