A new survey suggests many children are bullied online — and that few understand Internet safety as much as they thought.
A multinational, interdisciplinary team of researchers surveyed more than 4,200 middle and high school students about their knowledge of potential risks, appropriate use, and their behaviors on the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook and tumblr.
Researchers were especially concerned with student behaviors that may lead to cyber-bullying or contact with potential Internet predators.
Details of the survey, published in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, shows that teens aren’t as well-educated on the dangers of cyberbullying online as many adults think.
Stacey Kite, Robert Gable and Lawrence Filippelli of the Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, Rhode Island, developed the survey which included 47 items and five dimensions of the “Survey of knowledge of internet risk and behavior” (SKIRB).
The team found that an alarming number of students, almost one in three admitted to being bullied at school.
They also found that parental involvement in monitoring internet activity is low among this group with about a third of middle school and 17 percent of high school students reporting that their parents monitor their Internet.
Overall, the researchers found that students had little or no knowledge of Internet safety.
The finding shows that the current online environment is much different than what parent’s experienced in their youth as children are exposed to incessant Internet threats.
Experts report that information and communications technology is almost ubiquitous with almost nine out of every ten children having access to a computer at home now and 93 percent of teens using the Internet.
“The need to monitor children’s behaviors has become increasingly difficult with the extension of the internet and cell phones. No longer are children safe and sound in their home or school.
“In fact, the threats found on the Internet may be more dangerous and threatening since there are often no barriers,” the team says.
They add that it is becoming increasingly apparent that many teens are unaware of the risks of inappropriate behaviors online, viewing them as trivial and taking an “it won’t happen to me” stance.
Unfortunately, this lack of understanding and frivolous interpretation often leads to them coping on their own, not informing a parent or adult in a judicious time, if at all, and exposing them to real dangers in the offline world.
The team reports that educating youngsters about the risks in an non-patronizing way as well as teaching them about respect and having an open anti-bullying approach to relationships is vital to reduce the risk of children and teens being exposed to potential harm, whether physical or psychological, originating online.
Source: Inderscience Publishers