Norton, an antivirus software by cybersecurity company Symantec, today released findings from the 2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report: Family Edition, which sheds light on parents’ perceptions of cyberbullying and the preventative measures they are putting in place to protect their children.
The report reveals that while 40 percent of Indian parents allowed their children to access the Internet before age 11, many had a wide range of concerns. For example, more than half (54 percent) of Indian parents believe their children are more likely to be bullied online than on a playground.
“Children today face threats beyond physical violence or face-to-face encounters,” said Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager, Norton by Symantec.
“Cyberbullying is a growing issue and parents are struggling to identify and respond to this threat. A concern for many parents is that cyberbullying doesn’t stop when their child leaves school – as long as your child is connected to a device, a bully can connect to them,” he added.
In addition to cyberbullying, parents’ chief concerns were that their children might:
- Download malicious programs or a virus (71 percent)
- Disclose too much personal information to strangers (69 percent)
- Be lured into meeting a stranger in the physical world (65 percent)
- Do something online that makes the whole family vulnerable (62 percent) or embarrassed (60 percent)
- Be lured into illegal activities like hacking (61 percent)
Parents beginning to step up family cybersecurity
The report shows that Indian parents are starting to recognize how damaging cyberbullying can be for children and are putting in place preventative measures. For example:
- 57 percent parents chose to check their child’s browser history
- 46 percent only allow access to certain websites
- 48 percent allow Internet access only with parental supervision; 37 percent review and approve all apps before they are downloaded
- 36 percent enable Internet access only in household common areas
- 35 percent limit information their child can post on social profiles
One interesting finding from the survey is that parents from countries, who had the strictest preventative measures in place also had the lowest incidence of cyberbullying. The survey also reveals that 7 percent of parents fail to take any action to protect their children online.
“Many parents are still in the dark about how to recognize the signs of cyberbullying and what to do if their children are impacted. The first steps for all parents is to educate themselves about the signs of cyberbullying and learn how to establish an open line of communication with their children,” added Chopra.
Starting a conversation
The report indicates that only 17 percent of Indian parents reported their child was cyberbullied. While on the surface, this may seem like cyberbullying is not a problem, the reality is that many parents don’t know how to recognize the signs of cyberbullying, so the problem is likely under-reported.
Additionally, many children choose to remain silent about cyberbullying due to a fear of losing access to devices and the Internet, or that parents will embarrass them or exacerbate the problem by contacting the bully’s parents or the school.
Signs of cyberbullying
The cybersecurity company has listed the following signs that indicate a child is being cyberbullied include:
- They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email
- Habits with devices change. They may begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively
- They make excuses to avoid going to school
- They become defensive or secretive about online activity
- They withdraw from friends and family
- They have physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain
- They begin falling behind in school or acting out
- Their grades start declining
- They appear especially angry, frustrated or sad, particularly after going online/checking devices
- They delete social media or email