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Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:17

Online is the new school bully's playground

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A total of 54% of Australian parents believe their children are more likely to be bullied online instead of on the school playground.

Norton has just released its Cyber Security Insights Report: Family Edition, in time to provide some timely advice about back to school cyber bullying.

Gavin Lowth, vice-president, Symantec Consumer Business Unit, Asia-Pacific and Japan, said, “Children today face threats beyond physical violence or face-to-face encounters.

"Cyberbullying is a growing issue and parents are struggling to identify and respond to this threat. Many parents are concerned that cyberbullying doesn’t stop when their child leaves school – if your child is connected to a device, a bully can connect to them.”

The report finds:

  • 64% of parents allows children under the age of 11 to access the Internet;
  • 58% are concerned that children may disclose sensitive information online;
  • 50% are worried that children could be lured into a physical meeting with strangers;
  • 49% feel that reputational damage could hurt future education or employment prospects – online can be forever;
  • 48% are concerned something online that makes the whole family vulnerable and 42% embarrassed; and
  • About 10% of those experiencing cyber bullying will report it.

On the positive side, parents are becoming more aware of cyber bullying and their children’s online needs:

  • 38% check their child’s browser history;
  • 36% only allow access to certain websites;
  • 35% allow Internet access only with parental supervision;
  • 37% review and approve all apps before they are downloaded;
  • 37% enable Internet access only in household common areas;
  • 31% limit information they post about their children on social profiles; and
  • 26% set parental controls through home routers.

Interestingly, the survey found that that parents from countries who had the strictest preventive measures in place also had the lowest incidence of cyber bullying. The survey also revealed that 16% of Australian parents fail to take any action to protect their children online.

“Many parents are still in the dark about how to recognise the signs of cyberbullying and what to do if their children are impacted. The first steps for all parents is to educate themselves about the signs of cyber bullying and learn how to establish an open line of communication with their children,” added Lowth.

A bloody nose from a schoolyard fight will heal but cyber bullying is silent – only about 10% will report it and it can leave lasting mental scars.

Some of the signs parents need to look for that indicate a child is being cyberbullied include:

  • They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email;
  • Habits with devices change. They may begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively;
  • They make excuses to avoid going to school;
  • They become defensive or secretive about online activity;
  • They withdraw from friends and family;
  • They have physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain;
  • They begin falling behind in school or acting out;
  • Their grades start declining;
  • They appear especially angry, frustrated or sad, particularly after going online/checking devices; and
  • They delete social media or email accounts.

The free Norton report is here.

Norton cyber bullying

 

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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