One out of three internet users is a child. They go online at an ever younger age, using a diverse range of devices. They spend more time on the internet and social media, play more online games and use mobile apps, frequently without supervision by adults. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, increased connectivity, augmented and virtual reality will cause an important shift in the way children engage and interact in society.

Awareness-raising is an essential element of online safety. Young people need a safe and stimulating environment while engaging with new technologies and spending time online. We need actions to empower them as they explore the digital world.

While the internet offers many opportunities for learning, communication, creativity and entertainment, it also opens up certain risks to vulnerable users such as children.

Online, children can be exposed to harmful content and behaviour such as cyberbullying, sexual harassment, pornography, violence, or self-harm. Efficient responses are needed to prevent negative consequences for their cognitive, social and emotional development.

Parents believe they can provide their teen with the appropriate advice to make good online decisions. Nine-in-ten parents say they are at least somewhat confident they can teach their teen how to engage in appropriate online behavior, including 45% who say they are very confident in their ability to do so.

But even as most parents are confident they can educate their child about proper online conduct, notable shares are concerned about the types of negative experiences their teen might encounter online.

A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying

59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and a similar share says it’s a major problem for people their age. At the same time, teens mostly think teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at addressing this issue. (data: Pew Research Center)

Today, school officials, tech companies and lawmakers are looking for ways to combat cyberbullying.

Overall, 60% of girls and 59% of boys have experienced at least one of six abusive online behaviors. While similar shares of boys and girls have encountered abuse, such as name-calling or physical threats online, other forms of cyberbullying are more prevalent among girls. Some 39% of girls say someone has spread false rumors about them online, compared with 26% of boys who say this.

How is cyberbullying different from bullying?
Once cyberbullying became an issue, experts weren’t sure if it was a whole new type of bullying, or traditional bullying moving onto new platforms. A National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report concluded that cyberbullying and bullying are more alike than different. However, there are a few differences:

  • When & Where. Face-to-face bullying usually takes place during the day, for example at school. But cyberbullying can happen anyplace, any day of the week, at any time of day.
  • No Signature Needed. Although anonymous bullying is not common, either in person or online, cyberbullying can happen without knowing who is sending the messages.
  • Passing it On. Mean or embarrassing posts on social media can spread quickly online and “go viral.” This can increase the hurt or embarrassment from a bullying experience.

Just like traditional bullying, kids can experience cyberbullying in different ways, and roles sometimes change within a situation. They may be the target of bullying, bully others, or witness bullying online.

With more kids than ever using cell phones and other digital devices to text, post, and chat, cyberbullying is a growing concern. But there are things parents can do to keep online socializing healthy for their children.

  • Discuss digital citizenship
  • Check in early & often
  • Dialogue
  • Guidelines & Rules

Are we ready educated to take responsibility for kids’ internet safety?

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