Story image

Online bullying worse than the playground

01 Feb 17

A new report from Norton by Symantec has revealed parents worry their children are more likely to be bullied online than on a playground.

Findings from the 2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report: Family Edition, sheds light on New Zealand parents’ perceptions of cyberbullying and the preventative measures they are putting in place to protect their children.

The report reveals that while 71% of parents in New Zealand allowed their children to access the internet before age 11, many had a wide range of concerns. For example, half (50%) of New Zealand parents believe their children are more likely to be bullied online than on a playground.  

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

“Cyberbullying is a growing issue and parents are struggling to identify and respond to this threat. A concern for many parents is that cyberbullying doesn’t stop when their child leaves school  as long as your child is connected to a device, a bully can connect to them,” he explains.                                                                                                                                                   

In addition to cyberbullying, parents’ chief concerns were that their children might:

  • Download malicious programs or a virus (58%)
  • Disclose too much personal information to strangers (57%)
  • Be lured into meeting a stranger in the physical world (43%)
  • Do something online that makes the whole family vulnerable (40%), embarrassed (30%) or haunts them in the future with job or university prospects (44%)

Parents beginning to step up family cyber security

According to Symantec, the report shows that Kiwi parents are starting to recognise how damaging cyberbullying can be for children and are putting in place preventative measures. For example,

  • 44% enable internet access only in household common areas
  • 43% limit information they post about their children on social profiles and 26% set parental controls through home routers
  • 40% of parents chose to check their child’s browser history
  • 36% allow internet access only with parental supervision; 40% review and approve all apps before they are downloaded

The survey revealed that countries where parents had the strictest preventative measures in place, also had the lowest incidence of cyberbullying. Roughly one in six (16%) parents in New Zealand 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,” says Lowth.

“The first steps for all parents is to educate themselves about the signs of cyberbullying and learn how to establish an open line of communication with their children,” he says.

Starting a conversation

The Norton report indicates that only 10% of New Zealand parents reported their child was cyberbullied.

While on the surface, this may seem like cyberbullying is not a problem, Lowth says the reality is that many parents don’t know how to recognise the signs of cyberbullying, so the problem is likely under-reported.

Additionally, many children choose to remain silent about cyberbullying due to a fear of losing access to devices and the internet, or that parents will embarrass them or exacerbate the problem by contacting the bully’s parents or the school, Lowth says.

“If you suspect or are worried about cyberbullying, the first step is communication. Cyberbullying is a sensitive subject, and starting a conversation can be difficult,” he adds.

Signs of Cyberbullying

According to Symantec, some of the signs that indicate a child is being cyberbullied include:

  • They appear nervous when receiving a text or 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 or checking devices
  • They delete social media or email accounts
Royole's FlexPai: So bendable phablets are a reality now
A US-based firm called Royole is delivering on that age-old problem of not being able to fold up your devices (who hasn't ever wished they could fold their phone up...)
Hands-on review: Having fun in Knowledge is Power: Decades and Chimparty
They don’t revolutionise social video gaming, but they are enjoyable enough to occupy you during a wet weekend. 
Kiwis losing $24.7mil to scam calls every year
The losses are almost five times higher compared to the same period last year, from reported losses alone.
Tile's Mate & Pro Bluetooth trackers land in NZ
If your car keys (or your tablet) have disappeared into the void at the back of the couch or if you left them somewhere in your car, retracing your steps to find them could be a thing of the past.
Government still stuck in the past? Not on GovTech's watch
What exactly is GovTech and what’s been happening in our capital city?
"Is this for real?" The reality of fraud against New Zealanders
Is this for real? More often than not these days it can be hard to tell, and it’s okay to be a bit suspicious, especially when it comes to fraud.
Hands-on review: The iPhone Xs
The iPhone Xs is a win that brought numerous new and exciting features to the market.
How much does your Amazon Prime Video subscription really get you?
For our NZ$8.90 per month, the average cost per title is US$0.00126 - but we only really get a choice of 416 TV shows and 4321 movies. Choice is a little bit limited compared to other countries.