Bullying has always been an issue when it comes to school kids, but the trouble is that these days picking on the seemingly weaker youngsters in the playground isn’t the end of the matter – thanks to online connectivity, bullying can continue at home, outside of school.
Indeed, a new study carried out by security firm Kaspersky (in conjunction with the University of Wuerzburg) has found that 17 per cent of school pupils (aged between 12 and 15) have been on the receiving end of cyberbullying – often on social networks.
As Kaspersky notes, while cyberbullying may not involve any physical threat to the victim, it can be a more damaging type of bullying in many ways – because, for example, the online bully can remain anonymous, and is therefore more likely to carry the taunting on to extremes. With the prevalence of computers and smartphones these days, it’s also hard to escape being bullied online.
Kaspersky observes that as well as teaching youngsters about security online, we also need to impart moral and ethical considerations concerning online behaviour.
David Emm, Security Researcher at Kaspersky, commented: “Children need to develop a sense of morality when they are interacting with other people online, just as much as they do when they are communicating offline. This will give them more empathy and reduce the likelihood of them opting to engage in cybercrime or cyberbullying. It’s also important so that they understand, from an early age, the potential dangers associated with some online activities.”
The research also found that while two-thirds of children said cyberbullying was a “real problem”, very few of them will actually tell an adult if they are being victimised online.
Dr. Astrid Carolus, a media psychologist from the University of Wuerzburg, said: “Dialogue is very important for young children experiencing cyberbullying. If your child is a victim, remind them that they're not alone. It's a problem faced by lots of other children. There are even a number of celebrities that have suffered and spoken openly about their experiences since.”
Kaspersky provides resources to help deal with cyberbullying here.