Majority of children in India face cyberbullying but parents don't think so: report

With easy access to Internet and smart gadgets, a growing number of children in the country today are falling prey to cyberbullying, security software firm Symantec today said.

New Delhi: With easy access to Internet and smart gadgets, a growing number of children in the country today are falling prey to cyberbullying, security software firm Symantec today said. However, more disturbing is the fact that a majority of the parents don't feel their child is being bullied online.


According to a report by Norton (a Symantec brand), 52 percent of the children surveyed in India said they were victims of cybercrime and/or had online negative situation. About 18 per cent said they had been bullied online. However, 84 percent of the parents surveyed in the country said they did not feel that their child was being bullied online, The Norton Report: Family Edition said.



Cyberbullying refers to people using electronic communication like emailing, social networking and texting to harm others. Interestingly, 34 percent of children surveyed in India admitted to creating negative online experience for others.


Negative online experience refers to experience someone posting private/intimate content without permission, being approached online in an unwanted sexual way, online stalking or harassment, receiving SMS text messages from unknown people asking to click on an embedded link or receiving adult content.


"Going online is a daily affair for many of us -- not just adults but children too as they tackle schoolwork and indulge in playtime on the Internet. With social media and the online world continuing to infiltrate our lives and that of children, cyberbullying remains a very real online danger due to the damaging effect on people's mental health," Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager (India) for Norton by Symantec told PTI.


Also, with more and more people using their mobile devices, there is more direct impact. "Unlike offline forms of communication, these chats and messages are being digitally stored and can be forwarded to someone other than the original recipient, edited to distort the communication, and be published to different places," he said.


Once the communication is "out there," the person has lost control of it, Chopra added. About 54 percent of the girls surveyed said they were victims of cybercrime or a negative online situation. Also, 58 percent girls said they were bullied online during school year compared to 28 per cent boys who said they were bullied in school year.


The study, commissioned annually by Symantec, surveyed 13,022 adults (aged 18 to 64) from 24 countries this year. This includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, the UAE, the UK and the US.


In India, the survey was conducted with over 300 respondents (parents and kids) pan-India in tier I and tier II cities. "Many (parents) are unaware of whether their child is being harmed by cyberbullying or harming others and therefore unable to provide necessary support," Chopra said.


While 70 percent children surveyed did say they reached out to their parents when they experienced anything negative online, parents still need to educate themselves and provide confidence to their children to share their bad online experiences with them or another adult, he added.


"Online safety requires a combination of online and offline tools and continuous dialogues between parents and children. With the online dangers getting more targeted and sophisticated, it is important to have the right security software in the background on all devices to assess the activities," Chopra said.


Lastly, parents need to intervene personally to ensure social media use by their child is monitored regularly and educate them to make informed decisions about staying cautious and seeking help when dealing with cyberbullies, he added.



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