One of the largest global surveys of its kind, spanning 11 countries and almost 5,000 teens, reveals that one in five teens are cyberbullied, a fifth of whom felt suicidal.

On this World Safer Internet Day Monica Lewinsky has joined forces with British carrier Vodafone to launch #BeStrong, an emoji keyboard app to help fight cyberbullying.

Among the statistics uncovered in the Vodafone survey, forty-three percent said they “would find it hard to support a friend who had been bullied on social media, as they ‘could not find the right words’ to show support.” But, seventy-two percent said they would be likely to use an emoji to communicate their support if the right symbols were available. This was the inspiration for the #BeStrong emoji keyboard app.

The idea for this suite of “support emojis” was brought to Vodafone by Ms. Lewinsky, and was created to raise awareness of the importance of conveying compassion, sympathy and support when friends are being bullied online. The survey presented a selection of emoji designs, and these were chosen by the teens surveyed “as their favorite symbols for compassion and support.”


In an op-ed piece written for Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky, who has been an outspoken anti-bullying advocate explains:

“Thousands of people are bullied online—daily…it’s worth considering not only the many ways people can feel unsafe online but also new methods to help limit abusive behavior—or, at least, to blunt the emotional fallout. Support—whether it’s from friends or strangers—matters. Trust me on this. In today’s world, particularly online and especially for younger people, support—knowing you are not alone—is vital and can even save lives.”

Other key players of this initiative include: The Diana Award, ENABLE, and Berkeley University Professor Dacher Keltner, the psychologist who advised on the creation of the characters for Pixar’s film Inside Out.

The emojis are available for free download on iTunes, coming soon to Google Play.