Social networking sites have become a popular platform for youth to stay connected. Although these sites have many positive benefits, some tweens and teens are using these channels as weapons to facilitate cyberbullying.
A new study from Norton Canada called The Norton Cyberbullying Survey polled parents from across the country about their children’s online experiences. One quarter of parents polled (26 percent), said their child had been involved in a cyberbullying incident. Of these, nearly three out of four (66 percent) parents said their child was the victim of the incident, 16 percent admitted that their child was the actual bully, and 18 percent said their child was a witness to a cyberbullying incident. In addition, a staggering 32 percent of parents stated they don’t completely know what their child does on the internet, but fear their child’s behaviour online could involve coming into contact with an online predator (44 percent).
The Norton Cyberbullying Survey also found that girls are more often involved in cyberbullying incidents than boys. In fact, 86 percent of parents revealed their daughters were victims of cyberbullies, compared to 55 percent of sons.
- Mobile access: Cell phones were another vehicle for cyberbullying, with 22 percent of girls experiencing it more than boys (14 percent); cyberbullying via cell phone was also most common with middle schoolers (ages 13-14) (52 percent)
- Social Networking: 43 percent of parents said they were comfortable with tweens (ages 8-12) having an account, as long as they were supervised by parents. (You have to be at least 13-years-old to access most social networking sites legally)
- Top vehicles driving cyberbullying: According to the survey, the top three channels children are using to cyberbully are social media (63 percent), email (25 percent), and phone (19 per cent) – boys are more likely than girls to become victims of cyberbullying through social networks.
- Lines of communication: 49 percent of parents claim to have a very open dialogue with their children about their online behaviour, but 32 percent of all parents feel that there are environments they can’t control (i.e. friend’s homes, what children do at school or Internet activity on his/her phone)
- Controlling the situation: More than 50 percent of parents claim to use online parenting software to monitor their children’s internet use. Meanwhile 42 percent of parents said they check their child’s browser history to get a sense of what they are looking up online.
The survey was conducted online with a random sample of 507 men and women in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver who have a child between the ages of 8-18, all members of the Impulse Research proprietary online panel. The Impulse Research proprietary online panel has been carefully selected to closely match Canadian population demographics and the respondents are representative of Canadian men and women who live in those cities. Research was conducted in February 2011. The overall sampling error rate for this survey is +/-3% at the 95% level of confidence.