FFE Magazine

Are you aware whether your child is being cyberbullied?

Now, more than ever, parents need to be more aware of their child’s online activity.

A paper published recently in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication showed a surprising gap in parents’ awareness of how often their children were involved in risky online behaviour, like cyber-bullying and pornography.

The American researchers surveyed 465 parent-child pairs on their child’s online behaviour. They found out that parents often underestimated the instances their child becomes a victim or culprit of cyber-bullying and pornography. The researchers also observed that parents who followed a permissive style of parenting were more unaware of their child’s internet activity.

Of the children surveyed, 30% admitted to being cyber-bullied, while an alarming 10% of the parents said they knew. Of the 15% of children who admitted to cyber-bullying others, less than 5% of parents were aware of their child’s activity.

The study also suggests that parents who believed their child was smarter than others or who simply didn’t have the time to monitor their child’s internet use were more likely to be unaware that their child has been cyber-bullied.

Lead author Sahara Byrne said ‘Youth believe that social media is their turf and they are somewhat correct.

‘Parents sometimes have no idea what their kids are doing online until it’s too late.’

Cyber-bullying among the youth has become increasingly visible in the news as instances of related deaths surfaced. In the Philippines, the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 that also aims to protect victims of cyber-bullying has been signed into law in September.

Direct steps can be taken by parents to ensure their child is not engaging in or being victimised by cyber-bullying. For instance, moving the computer to a public space within the house can improve a parent’s ability to monitor the use of the internet. Smartphone use, however, is another thing altogether.

Parents can also be more open and talk to their child about their internet activities, engaging in positive conversations that will increase awareness on their child’s online behaviour.

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