If proof were needed that cyberbullying has reached epidemic proportions, it lies in the fact that a majority of school children are victims or afraid of being bullied online. Lower self-esteem, negative impact on school performance and anorexia are among the consequences.
As children ready to return to school, a report from antivirus major Kaspersky Lab and youth research consultancy iconKids & Youth shows that cyberbullying is a far more dangerous threat to children than many parents think.
Half of all respondents in the study are equally afraid of both real-life and virtual bullying, while 16 per cent of those surveyed are more afraid of being bullied online than offline. Only 13 per cent of children (and 21 per cent of parents) consider it harmless.
Cyberbullying is intentional intimidation, persecution or abuse that children and teenagers may encounter on the internet. Interestingly, children aged 8 to 16 are more wary of this threat than their parents are.
Bullying on the internet seriously affected children’s emotional well-being: parents of 37 per cent of the victims reported lower self-esteem, 30 per cent saw a deterioration in their performance at school, and 28 per cent cited depression. In addition, 25 per cent of parents stated that cyberbullying had disrupted their child’s sleep patterns and caused nightmares (21 per cent). Another 26 per cent of parents noticed that their child had started avoiding contact with other children, and 20 per cent discovered their child had anorexia.
Just as worrying are the statistics showing that 20 per cent of children witnessed others being bullied online, and in 7 per cent of cases even participated in it. The survey shows that children often hide incidents of cyberbullying from their parents, making the task of protecting them even more complicated, though fortunately not impossible.
The research surveyed 3,780 families online with children aged eight to 16, with one parent and one child per family.