According to a study by Bark, an organisation that makes monitoring devices for parents, children are now experiencing cyberbullying and sexting at record levels.
Children’s safety online has been a concern since the internet’s launch, and parents are now more anxious than ever. Despite calls for stricter laws and regulations to protect kids, this study shows that kids are at a greater risk than ever.
The study found that 82% of teens and 62% of tweens had seen sexual content online. It also found that 83% of teens and 71% of tweens had experienced cyberbullying, either as a bully, victim, or witness. This included all types of bullying from teasing to threats.
Even more worryingly, it found that 64% of teens and 35% of tweens had been involved in a situation related to self-harm or suicide online.
A recent statement from the FBI warned parents about the rise of bullying, extortion, and the sharing of sexual images online among teenagers. It reported that last year, over 7000 reports of sexual extortion were filed with US law enforcement agencies.
When it comes to cyberbullying, many parents are anxious. However, there are some signs that they can look out for that suggest their child is at risk. For example:
- The child is more secretive and tries to hide their devices ;
- They are more emotional than usual after using a device or social media – they might seem angry, sad, or overwhelmed;
- The child keeps deleting their social media accounts and creating new ones;
- There are changes in their behaviour that are out of character;
- They are having unexplained problems at school or in their friendships;
- They seem anxious when they get a notification or message on their device.
If a parent is concerned about bullying, experts also recommend that they help their child feel safe in sharing the information, as it’s common for kids to hide their online activity out of fear.