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Parents in the dark over cyberbullying

16 Jun 14

Twice as many girls as boys are being bullied online according to a new study – but both sexes are being equally affected by cybercrime and/or negative online experiences.

The Norton Report: Family Edition says 57% - or  two in every five - Kiwi children have been harmed by cybercrime and/or a negative online situation during 2012-2013.

The report, which was released today to coincide with the launch of Connect Smart Week, a new Government-led initiative to promote better digitial security, says 57% of New Zealand children who were harmed by cybercrime and/or a negative online situation, admitted hiding what they do online from adults.

More than 350 New Zealanders – 148 adults and 203 children – were surveyed for the report.

While girls experience more bullying – at 17% compared to 8% for boys – cybercrime in general didn't discriminate, with a fairly even split between girls and boys affected at 44% and 41% respectively.

“As social media and the online world continues to infiltrate our lives and that of young people, cyberbullying remains a very real online danger due to the damaging effect on people's mental health,” says Brenton Smith, Symantec vice president and managing director, Pacific region.

He's urging parents to provide confidence to their children to share their bad online experiences with them or another adult.

“Our current research indicated that Kiwi parents are in the dark about cyberbullying, with many unaware of whether their child is being harmed by cyberbullying or harming others, and therefore unable to provide necessary support.”

While 67% of children surveyed said they spoke to their parents about their negative online experience, only 22% stayed away from where they were bullied online.

“It is clear more education is needed to enable children to make informed decisions about seeking help when dealing with cyberbullies,” Smith says.

Mark Shaw, Symantec Pacific region technology strategist, information security, says 17% of New Zealand children have been responsible for causing another person's negative online experience.

“What they might think is just a joke can be extremely distressing for the person on the receiving end.

“We need to make sure our young people understand the impact cyberbullying can have on other people's mental health,” Shaw says.

“Children need to be able to explore, discover and enjoy their time online, but they also need boundaries to know what is acceptable online behaviour,” he adds.

Symantec offers the following top 10 tips for parents and children:

  • Set aside time to discuss appropriate online behaviour and create age-appropriate 'House Rules' about how computers, smart phones and gaming systems are used at home

  • For parents, be a positive role model and be aware that children like to imitate your behaviour

  • Do not share private information like passwords, name and address, phone numbers with people you don’t know

  • If you are being harassed online, block the harasser and report the situation to an adult such as a parent or teacher

  • Do not respond to the harasser/s online as this could encourage them to continue

  • Find out how to report bullying and harassment on each of the social networks that you use

  • Keep a record of calls, messages, posts and emails that may be offensive and harmful

  • Use privacy options wisely on social networking sites

  • Use strong, unique passwords on all your accounts and devices, especially mobile phones and install security software on all devices

  • Be kind. If you have harassed a person online: apologise, take down any offensive material as soon as possible and talk to a trusted adult.


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