Aussie parents struggling to help kids combat bullying: Life Education survey

Life Education

Aussie parents struggling to help kids combat bullying:

Life Education survey

Tuesday 19th November, 2019: New research from leading childhood health education organisation, Life Education, has found that Aussie parents are concerned that not enough is being done to combat bullying – both in the school yard and online.

The survey of more than 1000 Australian parents of school-aged children, conducted by Life Education in partnership with Trend Micro, revealed that despite widespread attention to the issue, parents are struggling to find their way through the challenging landscape of digital childhoods.

A staggering one in four parents felt they didn’t have enough confidence to help their child through a bullying incident. What’s more, most parents believe that in today’s modern world, the lines between face-to-face and cyberbullying are blurred, so keeping kids safe online is a significant concern, and an area where parents feel their skills are lacking.

Top challenges for parents include children not disclosing that they were bullied, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, not having enough support, and a lack of time. Parents also worry about the rise of online gaming as an avenue for cyberbullying. However, around a third of parents (37%) also said online communities, including online games and social media, can be a positive place for young people to socialise.

Parents’ reactions to finding out that their kids were bullied or cyberbullied were mixed. The majority of parents say they would respond by educating their children about how to handle the situation, and contacting their child’s school. Just under half (42%) of respondents said they would contact the perpetrators’ parents or report it to authorities. Some (19%) parents said they would resort to tactics such as taking devices away from their children if they found out they were being cyberbullied.

The survey also revealed that while 62% of parents agreed that their children spend too much time on screens, 71% said they monitor their child’s time on devices. When it came to negotiating screen time, more than half (57%) of parents said they determine the amount of time spent on devices, 30% said it’s a negotiation, and 13% said their children call the shots.

Trend Micro APAC Senior Consumer Director Tim Falinski said “We know how important it is to keep kids safe online. We want to empower kids, families and schools to use technology safely, responsibly and successfully.

“Families are continuing to struggle to find a balance in screen time hours and offline activities for their children. To help educate parents on how they can help manage screen time we have partnered with Life Education on the bCyberwise module. We also run a yearly competition What’s Your Story? which helps give parents an opportunity to discuss good digital practices online, as well as having parental controls in our products such as Maximum Security and Home Network Security” Mr Falinski said.

Most parents believe they need to band together with schools and communities to tackle the problem. Eighty-seven percent of parents agree that respectful relationship education should be taught in all Australian schools and 92% say online safety education should be mandatory.

Life Education ambassador and digital wellbeing expert Dr Kristy Goodwin said that parents – as well as children – need guidance to help navigate the digital world, and that it is crucial that respectful relationship and online safety education is delivered in tandem with schools to help protect children from bullying and online dangers.

“Parents often experience ‘techno-guilt’ and guesswork when it comes to helping their kids navigate the online environment. It is critical that modern parents set firm guidelines and are the ‘pilots of the digital plane’ and not the passenger,” Dr Goodwin said.

“The best way to help kids through these challenges is through the combined support of schools and families. Ongoing school-based education is critical to complement and expand upon what parents are doing at home.”

Dr Kristy’s top tips

• Be actively involved in your children and teens’ digital lives.

• Set boundaries around what technology kids use, the times of the day devices are used and places in the home where technology is used and prohibited.

• Encourage your kids to come to you if they’re cyberbullied.

• Don’t take away kids’ devices or limit screen time as a punishment – this will make them less likely to disclose to you if they have been cyberbullied.

/Public Release.