With more kids finding themselves onto social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, more are also being cyberbullied through those platforms. But according to a recent comScore study, commissioned by SocialShield, only less than nine percent of parents are aware of these activities or realize their children are victims of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying comes in all shapes and forms of the technological world: Social networks, texting, online chatting, and blogs. These venues account for the majority of cyberbullying, with 36 percent of parents only adding their kids to their social networks’ friends list to keep an eye on just one aspect of the children’s online life. The study also cites that 24 percent of cyberbullying occurs via cellphones, particularly with the increase of teen sexting activity.
Do we really blame the parents though? After all, when I was in high school, I definitely did not want to add my mom on Facebook out of a sheer, immature desire to have a separate private life. Kids and teens can often feel embarrassed to have their parents see what they do online and with their friends. If kids do decide to add their parents, mom and dad are likely swept under a privacy setting that limits them from truly monitoring what’s happening on their children’s Facebook walls.
The study also states that children are finding a variety of resources to be online, with 52 percent of respondents saying their children accessed social networks from a family computer, 42 percent from the child’s own computer, and 5 percent from their schools’ computers. Even if kids are going online from home, they can privately browse sites with a setting available on most Internet clients, leaving no footprint behind for parents to keep track.
With the increased use of smartphones, children are also able to visit social network through mobile apps which account for 25 percent of access. These various platforms contribute highly to parents being unable to see of how immersed their children are to the Internet world. Many parents are also unaware that Facebook’s official age restriction is not 18 years old but only 13, and many kids well under that age still find themselves creating profiles on the site. Facebook can be attractive to younger children because of the array of video game apps available to them for free (or for spam).
The rate of cyberbullying and teen suicides have rapidly increased over the past few years with more children on the Internet, and parents need to be more aware and talk to their children about this issue. Nine percent is a scary and unacceptable number in comparison to the amount of ways kids can be bullied. SocialShield is creating a software to help parents monitor their kids’ online activity, but even so, parents should establish trust with their children to know what’s going on in their Internet and real lives and keep them safe from any form of harm.