A new report from Norton shows that 80% of parents are now concerned that cyberbullying will affect their child. In other words abused or harassed online.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner found that 82%  of all Australian teens had gone online in the last month. It is important to understand that cyberbullying doesn’t stop when the child leaves school. If they are online, a bully can connect to them.

Norton by Symantec released its parenting data from its 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report (NCSIR) published last month. Through a survey of Australians parents across the country, this research reveals the chief concerns of Australian parents when it comes to their child and how they behave online.

“Cyberbullying can be a sensitive subject, and the conversations around online security are often thrown into the ‘too hard’ basket,” said Melissa Dempsey, Senior Director of Symantec’s Norton Business Unit in Asia Pacific and Japan.

“But these are important discussions for parents to have with their children to help ensure the child’s security and well-being, the same way we as parents have conversations around homework, diet and sleep schedules.”

Cyberbullying is not the only online threat

In addition to cyberbullying, 2017 saw a huge spike in children’s online safety concerns reported by Australian parents, including:

  • 88% spending too much time in front of a screen
  • 85% have downloaded a malicious program/virus
  • 82% have given out too much personal information to strangers
  • 76% have posted something that will come back to haunt them in the future
  • 74% are concerned about being lured into meeting a stranger

Online parental supervision still lacking

Despite growing concerns, parental supervision of children online is still not common practice, and the level of preventative measures put in place to protect children and family-owned devices has decreased from 2016. In fact, less than a quarter of Australian parents reported always supervising their children online. While, 47%  always supervise their children while online shopping and 36%  during video communication, only 26%  report always supervising their children when using social media, and 29%  when checking or writing emails.

  • 37% of parents only allow access to certain content and websites
  • 23% allow Internet access only with parental supervision
  • 26% review or approve all apps before downloading
  • 32% check their child’s browser history
  • 25% limit the amount of information their child can post on their social profiles
  • 24% set parental controls through the home router
  • 32% require computer use to take place in common areas

Spotting the signs of cyberbullying

While more Australian parents are wary of online harassment and bullying than ever before, few have the information they need to recognise the signs. Feelings of embarrassment or fear mean children who fall to cyberbullying are often hesitant to come forward, placing the onus on parents to take action.

Today marks the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, an annual day dedicated to encouraging Australian schools and communities to come together and find actionable solutions that address bullying and violence.

To help parents, teachers and guardians spot the signs, here are a few examples that indicate cyberbullying of a child:

  • They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email
  • Their 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 accounts

Dealing with cyberbullying

The best way to respond to cyberbullying is to proactively encourage and maintain an open dialogue about the issue. Through constant conversation, children are more likely to confide their feelings with parents as this is an empathetic way of dealing with it. Another way to counter cyberbullying is to establish house rules and guidelines on online etiquettes, such as using strong passwords and installing security software such as Norton Security Premium.

To learn more about cyberbullying signs, and for tips on how to start an open conversation about online security, visit http://norton.com/cyberbullying.