Nearly a quarter (22%) of parents feel they cannot control what their child sees or does online, although nearly half (48%) worry that they may face cyberbullying, a survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International reveals.
Well-intentioned attempts by adults to give their children some privacy could, in fact, be leaving them more vulnerable to online harassment and abuse. For example, only 19% say they are friends with or follow their kids on social media networks and just 39% monitor their children’s online activity. A mere 38% have spoken to their children about online risks, which could reflect a lack of confidence and understanding.
The study found that children are often reluctant to admit to being cyberbullied: a quarter (25%) of parents whose children had been harassed online said it was a long time before they found out. This is particularly worrying because online abuse can easily spill over into real-world bullying, as 26% of affected parents have found.
The long term emotional impact of cyberbullying can be devastating for young people and parents need to know so that they can act to make it stop. Our study found that 44% of parents whose children had been cyberbullied stepped in to prevent it – leaving well over half who didn’t.
Kaspersky Lab is committed to educating and supporting children and their parents in the fight against cyberbullying. As part of a global campaign it organized a high level panel to debate the issue at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona.
Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said: “The Internet brings a great many benefits, but unfortunately it also allows certain people to unleash their destructive human traits, and cyber-bullying has become a widespread problem today. For its victims, the psychological damage can be massive and long-lasting. There’s probably no purely technological answer, but we must talk about it to raise awareness of this issue and help young people and their parents safely make the most of the good things the Internet has to offer”.
“Cyberbullying… and bullying in general… is certainly an issue for young people, and needs to be tackled in a holistic approach that involves parents and teachers as well as the children and teens themselves. The core problem is that our communication tools have hugely evolved over the past decades, yet literacy skill development is not keeping step,” commented Janice Richardson, Senior Advisor at European Schoolnet and co-founder of Insafe during the panel discussion at Mobile World Congress.
It can be difficult to completely prevent cyberbullying, but there are some simple measures that can be taken to protect children from the issue and its consequences.
For example, reviewing privacy settings in social networks allows adults to help children control who can see posts and write messages. Making full use of parental control settings in software applications and security solutions can provide strong protection and peace of mind.
But it needs to go further than technology. Parent need to explain how important it is to keep private information private, and not to reveal details such as address, phone number, school, credit card number, and more — online; to think about what they are sharing and with who; and who to turn to for support when they feel bullied or distressed.