As a society it appears our kids have moved on from Barbie and Lego to iPads, iPhones and Playstations and whilst this has brought with it so many advantages, the online dangers still continue to catch parents off guard.
One key area parents and educators need to focus on is the prevalence of Cyberbullying. Despite increased national awareness on the subject, the devastating reality is that research is showing there has been little improvement when it comes to our kids and their digital aggression.
Cyberbullying is the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner.
In previous columns I’ve talked about exclusionary bullying but following recent tragedies, I think it’s time parents had a look at the raw statistics of the impacts that cyberbullying can and is having on our youth. I think it’s important to understand just how big a problem our kids are facing because for every victim, there is a child out there intentionally hurting another child.
I’m the first to say that the term bullying is at times used far too loosely and that there are simply just mean and bitchy kids out there, doing mean and bitchy things. However, our role as parents is to work out when the problems our kids are encountering need to be acted upon.
- These statistics might help you understand that cyberbullying is real and your child may not be the victim; these figures might also help you understand that sometimes you do need to take action.
- 87 percent of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying
- Close to 34 percent of students acknowledge that they have experienced cyberbullying
- 15 percent of surveyed students admit to cyberbullying others
- 24 percent of our sons and daughters report that they do not know what to do if they were harassed online
- 39 percent of our children do not enable their privacy settings on social media
- 19 percent of cyberbullying often entails the spreading of rumours
- Nearly 13 percent of victimised children experience hurtful comments
- 72 percent of children report they are cyberbullied because of their looks
- 26 percent of victims are chosen due to their race or religion
- 22 percent of harassed children feel that their sexuality was the cause of the bullying
- Girls (41 percent) are more likely to experience cyberbullying at some point in their life compared to boys (28 percent)
- Girls who cyberbully tend to post mean online comments
- Girls tend to favour social media outlets like Snapchat or Instagram, while boys often interact over gaming consoles
- Male cyberbullies often post hurtful photos or videos
Parents, educators and other school officials need to recognise signs of cyberbullying, and we must all make a more concerted effort to help cyberbully victims.
The cyberbullying victim is not going to declare, “I am a cyberbully victim”; instead, they are going to assume no one understands them and no one is here to help them and potentially resort to self harm or even suicide.
It is up to parents and educators to check in our kids, monitor their online behaviour, discuss the language and choice of words being used when chatting online.
We need to remind our kids that social media is not there for the purpose of talking about others and most importantly, we need to instil in our kids that we will listen, that we do understand what cyberbullying means and that we are prepared to take action before it gets bad. For information on what to do if you or your child encounters cyberbullying, I recommend going to
www.esafety.gov.au where you can not only report the issues, but there are more helpful tips on what to do.