NC – A new survey has found that most parents are waiting too long to sit down and discuss the issue of cyberbullying with their children.
The Protecting Canadian Families Online survey, conducted by Leger on behalf of Primus Telecommunications Canada, revealed that 72 percent of parents say they had already spoken to their children about the dangers of traditional schoolyard bullying by the age of eight.
But when it came to discussing cyberbullying, 35 percent of parents said they’d only just begun to discuss this issue with their children at that age. The online survey studied Canadian parents with children between the ages of 8 and 16 who had Internet access in their homes. Cyberbullying involves the use of texts, emails and social networks to intimidate or embarrass others, or to spread harmful gossip. It can also include breaking into email accounts, to send hurtful messages under an assumed identity, according to the national cyberbullying prevention organization PREVNet.
As soon as a child can go online, parents should initiate a discussion about online threats, says Brad Fisher, a Primus spokesman and online safety advocate.
“Our survey results send a strong signal that cyberbullying awareness and prevention must become a top priority for parents as soon as their child has access to the internet—whether it’s through a family computer, a smart phone or even a gaming console,” he cautions.
“With the pervasiveness of social media and texting on cellphones and other devices, the need for education on this issue is more important than ever to help protect families online.”
The survey also found that most parents—89 percent—believed their children would tell them if someone was bullying them online. Research from PREVNet, however, indicates that only eight percent of teens actually do speak up about incidents of cyberbullying.
“Most children don’t say anything because they don’t think their parents will know what to do, or how to help them,” says Dr. Wendy Craig, PREVNet’s scientific co-director. “But organizations like ours are dedicated to educating parents on this important issue and to providing them with the resources they will need to protect their families online.”