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Study Finds Parents Underestimate The Frequency of Cyber Bullying

Update Date: Oct 26, 2013 10:28 AM EDT
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Technological advances over the years have made bullying harder to monitor and control. Childhood bullying used to take place on school grounds before, during and after school, where there is a higher chance of teachers and adults witnessing the act. With cyber bulling, the bullies become harder to identify. In a new study, researchers set out to find whether or not parents were aware of how often their children get cyber bullied or are cyber bullies. The team found that parents often greatly underestimate the level of cyber bullying in their children's lives.

The research team interviewed 465 parent-child pairs regarding their children's behavior online. Some of the survey questions were focused on whether or not their children were victims or bullies, exposed to sexual content, or approached by strangers through the Internet. The researchers had data on the actual statistics regarding these factors.

The team found that parents were very bad at estimating the frequency of the encounters their children face every day on cyber space. The researchers calculated that around 30 percent of children stated that they have been cyber bullied but only 10 percent of parents reported being aware that their children encountered cyber bullying. The researchers also found that 15 percent of children admitted to being bullies and only five percent of parents were aware of it.

"Youth believe that social media is their turf and they are somewhat correct," the lead author, Sahara Byrne from Cornell University said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers found that parents of younger teenagers tended to be less aware of their children's online behaviors. The researchers stressed that in order to better control cyber bullying, which has been tied to suicides in young children, parents should focus on open communication with their children.

The study, "Peers, Predators, and Porn: Predicting Parental Underestimation of Children's Risky Online Experiences," was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

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