Twice as many teenagers are subjected to traditional schoolyard-type bullying compared with cyber bullying, according to Perth research.
A Murdoch University academic says the finding from the world-first study shows "offline" bullying is still a big problem and she wants a rethink of measures to solve the teenage bullying culture.
Kathryn Modecki and overseas researchers analysed all studies from around the world that measured traditional and cyber bullying in adolescents aged 12 to 18.
"We found that despite popular thought, cyber bullying was only half as common as traditional forms of bullying, with about 15 per cent of adolescents reporting either cyber perpetration or victimisation compared to around 30 per cent for traditional bullying," Dr Modecki said.
"This means that youth are considerably less likely to be involved in cyber bullying relative to traditional bullying.
"The correlation between the two types of bullying was also relatively high, which means for those who do report being bullied online, they are likely to have also been bullied offline."
Similarly, teenagers who bullied others online also behaved that way away from the internet.
Dr Modecki, an expert in antisocial behaviour in adolescents, spent two years with her research student gathering and coding data from 80 bullying studies based on more than 300,000 teenagers.
As a result of her study, Dr Modecki and colleagues are calling for bullying to be approached as a general behavioural issue.
They said the focus of anti- bullying efforts should be not so much on the method used by teenagers but the underlying causes of the behaviour.
"Youth bully for a range of reasons and we need to treat the underlying issues that propel adolescents to act in harmful ways," Dr Modecki said.
"Schools and communities have limited resources and we need to be smart about finding ways to have maximum effect on harmful behaviours, wherever they occur."
The two-year study was funded by Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.