Parents don’t have the time to protect their kids against cyberbullying, according to two studies released by the online monitoring serviceSocialShield.
According to the studies, “over 69 percent of parents with children ages 10 – 17 say they are concerned about their children visiting social networking sites, with their biggest fears being, in order, contact from strangers, information being displayed online that shares their child’s physical location, postings that could tarnish their child’s reputation, and their child getting cyberbullied,” according to a Aug. 9 SocialShield news release.
“With about half of young people experiencing some form of cyberbullying or other harassment online, a majority of parents with children under 18 say they are concerned about their children’s social networks activities and want to find ways to protect them. Most parents also admit, however, that they do not have the tools, knowledge or time to properly monitor their children on social networks—and many admit that they take no precautions at all,” the news release stated.
Even though a majority of parents believe that daily online monitoring is a must, only 32 percent say they actually monitor their child’s social networking activities every day, and 28 percent of parents admit they only occasionally, rarely or never monitor their child’s social networking activities, the studies found.
“Almost all parents agree that they have a responsibility to look out for their kid’s safety and well-being while they’re on social networks, but there is a serious gap between what most parents believe is sufficient monitoring and what they are actually doing,” said George Garrick, chief executive officer of SocialShield.
About half of young people have experienced at least some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center, which also found that cyberbullying victims are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to youth who had experienced no cyberbullying.
Other findings from the studies include:
- 62 percent of parents feel that occasionally looking over their child’s shoulder while he/she sits at the computer in the family room is enough to monitor his/her activities effectively, even though 71 percent admit their child also accesses social networks from other places, such as at a friend’s house or the library;
- 50 percent of parents admit that “properly monitoring would take a lot of time and I'm sure there are things I'm not seeing”;
- 63 percent of parents say they frequently review who their child is friending on social networks to make sure it is only people that he/she knows in real life (although it’s impossible for any parent to really know who a particular “friend” is);
- 54 percent of parents say they monitor their child’s social networking account by logging into his/her account as him/her on occasion; only 5 percent say they are currently using a monitoring application that alerts them if there is something they should be aware of.
Steve DeWarns, a Bay Area police officer and the chief safety officer of SocialShield, said, “ … at the most basic level, a large proportion of parents really don’t understand what social networks are and how they work, thus where the risks lie.”