According to a comScore study, commissioned by SocialShield, less than 9% of parents know that their children are victims of cyberbullying, and that, overall, they are aware of only half of the cyberbullying incidents occurring in the US.
While 36% of parents admit to adding their children to their friends list to monitor their activity, that’s of little help when it comes to text messages, private online messages, chat and closed forums, which also happens to be where a fair share of cyberbullying is happening. 24% of cyberbullying occurs on cell phones, and 10% on chat applications.
52% of the respondents said that their children access social networks from a family computer, 42% from the child’s own computer, with only 25% saying that they’re getting onto social networks using their cell phones. 8% are using tablets or a friend’s computer, and 5% are using school computers.
An increase in both cyberbullying and youth suicides has been witnessed in the US and there is clearly a disconnect between what parents are aware of and what children are reporting. Compared with the 9% of parents who are aware of cyberbullying incidents, Pew Research shows that 15% of children have experienced cyberbullying, while according to data from the Cyberbullying Research Center, the figure jumps to 21%.
Surveying over 2,000 parents of children aged 8 to 17, the SocialShied study also looks into the reasons why so few parents are aware of the extent of online bullying their children are subjected to. One of the main reasons is mobile access to social networks, as well as the availability of several platforms or networks to communicate with friends, many of which afford its users private modes of communication.
SocialShield itself has produced a monitoring tool which tracks all social network use. While SocialShield does say that the software is used with the child’s approval, it’s not clear whether or not approval is essential for the software to work.
It is probably impossible to paint an accurate picture of the state of cyberbullying in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, since doubtless many incidents go unreported. While criticized by online activists for their point of view, the likes of Randi Zuckerberg have called for an end to online anonymity as a way of tackling the ongoing problem of cyberbullying.