By Internet Matters Team on
Not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters today launches a hard-hitting campaign to highlight the changing face of bullying in the digital age – and how parents’ advice should also shift with the times.
It comes at a peak time of the year for the issue – with eight times as many Google searches for ‘cyberbullying’ when children are back at school compared to July and August.
Figures peak specifically in October, with more than double the number of searches for the term ‘cyberbullying’ compared to an average month.*
And new research of 1,500 parents, conducted by Internet Matters, reveals 62% of parents are ‘concerned’ about cyberbullying – making it just as much of a worry as online grooming and sexting.**
Nearly one in 10 (9%) parents polled said their children had been involved in a cyberbullying incident.
Despite the widespread concern about the topic, 32% said they had yet to talk to their children about it.
A compelling video which runs alongside the campaign plays on the phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, focusing on a distressed schoolboy alone in his bedroom, as his phone repeatedly flashes up with hurtful messages from bullies.
Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, an ambassador for the campaign, says that victims of cyberbullying can find it hard to open up to their parents.
Dr. Papadopoulos said: “Bullying is not confined to the school playground anymore. The digital age means it can follow you home and can be just as hurtful as physical bullying. Sometimes children don’t want to talk about what is happening to them online. They may feel helpless or worry their parents will take away their phones or ban them from using tech. It’s vital that parents learn how to pick up the signs, especially at this time of the year when there is a rise in the number of people seeking information about the issue.”
Internet Matters has worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to bring together comprehensive new information, guidance and resources for parents on its website, available at internetmatters.org/cyberbullying.
The website offers help on how to protect children from cyberbullying, by learning how it might affect them and, in particular, the signs to watch out for. There is advice on how to talk about cyberbullying with your child, technical tools you can use to help manage any potential risks and cyberbullying terms to look out for [see below].
Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: “This time of the year can create a perfect storm for cyberbullying. Many children may be getting their first smartphone as they start at a new school and find a wider network of friends online.
“Connecting with friends on social media and online can be liberating and empowering for children, which makes cyberbullying all the more impactful.
“We have worked with the leading bullying experts in the country to produce advice with resources to help parents understand the issues and steps they can take.”