NEW figures released today suggest a growing number of young Gold Coasters are being exposed to cyber bullying.
A nationwide survey conducted by McAfee, part of Intel Security, has revealed that 81 per cent of young people aged between eight to 17 have witnessed or experienced bullying online.
That’s a staggering 56 per cent increase from last year.
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The annual research, which was first undertaken last year, examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of Australian tweens and teens and aims to educate on the impact that risky behaviour has on their privacy, reputation and social media experiences.
According to the research, YouTube is the number one social site across all age groups, with Facebook the most likely to be visited daily.
Facebook has seen a spike in underage users, with 31 per cent of 8 to 9-year-old’s and 60 per cent of 10 to 12-year-old’s admitting to having a Facebook profile, despite the legal age being 13 – up from 26 per cent during the previous year.
Melanie Duca, APAC Consumer Marketing Director of McAfee says the problem is getting worse as local teens trade their privacy for popularity on social media.
“Teens and tweens are very comfortable operating in the online world, yet the risks have never been greater,” she said.
“Young people are often the pioneers for new technologies so they need to understand the consequences of their online behaviour.”
According to long-time partner of McAfee, Life Education Australia, it’s concerning that the research found that a quarter of teens and tweens don’t know where to report incidences of cyberbullying.
The Australian government has made a significant investment to create resources to curb cyberbullying and make reporting of cyberbullying incidences more streamlined.
A key initiative is the appointment of an e-Safety Commissioner.
What the research also found is that the drive for attention and acceptance, as well as the growing comfort level of young people with digital media, is leading to young people letting their guard down and engaging in behaviours that place them at risk.
Half of those surveyed said that their parents couldn’t keep up with the technology and that 70 per cent admitted to proactively hiding what they do online from their parents.
Half of teens and tweens say they have done or posted something risky online and one in five have tried to reinvent themselves online by creating a fake profile, while 48 per cent have chatted online with someone they don’t know, a jump from 19 per cent in 2013.
Even more concerning, one in five have met someone in person that they first met online.
Other Survey Highlights:
- ONLINE FEARS: Younger kids mostly fear being cyberbullied online (27%), whereas teens are more fearful of losing their information (21%), being hacked (31%) and losing their privacy (23%)
- PARENTAL GEOTRACKING: 74% would agree to their parents receiving alerts about their location
- SIBLING PROTECTION: Over a quarter (28%) of teens and tweens keep an eye on their younger siblings’ social pages, and actively providing advice on what’s appropriate
Top 5 Tips for parents to help educate their kids:
- Connect with your kids. Talk to them about the risks of being online and make sure the communication lines are always open.
- Learn their technology. Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use. You want to know more about their devices than they do.
- Get social. Stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks. Join whatever networks or sites your kids are into so you understand how it all works.
- Reputation management. Make sure your kids are aware that anything they post online is permanent.
- Stay calm. If your kids come to you with an online problem, it’s important not to overreact. Deal with it calmly and don’t threaten to take devices away, or they may not feel confident about seeking your help again.