Survey: Cyberbullying Worse than Parents Know
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
February 23 2012 07:21 PM ET
Parents may fall woefully short of protecting their kids from online bullies. In fact, they may not even know their child has been harassed.
A report released today (Feb. 23) says that less than 8 percent of parents are aware of cyberbullying incidents involving their own child, despite the fact that other data – including a 2011 Pew Research study – shows that as many as twice that number of children claim to be the victims of cyberbullying. The study of 4,000 parents was commissioned by Social Shield, a company provides monitoring software to help parents keep track of their children's online interactions. While technology has contributed to the bullying problem, that's only part of the story.
More than half of parents reported that their child accesses social networks from the family computer, but 42 percent have their own computers and presumably used them away from their parents' prying eyes.
It's not that parents aren't trying — 36 percent of the respondents said they have "friended" their kids on Facebook to keep an eye on their activity. But technology can get in the way. Parents won't see threats if they come in by instant message or if stricter Facebook privacy controls have been used. And they won't see hurtful messages coming in by text on a child's cellphone.
While many parents said they expected their kids to tell them when an incident occurred, studies by cyber-safety organizations suggest they don't, says SocialShield. It's not so different from the days when a kid came home from school with a black eye and said he fell on the playground. Kids today have more to lose than their pride — they fear their parents will take away their computer, phone or tablet.
Parents can't overcome bullies with tech alone — they'll have to gain their kids' trust and teach them how to respond to bullies — delete can go a long way in stopping most bullies.
"First tell them to stop," Liz, a high school freshman in Salt Lake City, said. "If they don't, just block them."