Unrestrained access to the internet and social media has been showing its ugly side. It has led to an alarming rise in instances of cyberbullying of children in our country. According to a survey, over 37% of parents admitted that their children have become victims of cyberbullying at least once, which is 15% more than in 2016. The report says, “Indian parents remained among the highest to express confidence that their children were cyberbullied at least sometimes, a number that only grew from 2011 to 2018.”

While these figures are indeed alarming, the current social climate in our country has only acted as an enabler of cyberbullying. The aforementioned survey, conducted by a UK-based consumer tech review firm, Comparitech, is also a warning that our failure to curb this culture of virtual aggression will have hazardous effects on the well-being of our children.

There are two ways to interpret this report. Firstly, we need to keep a tab on digital usage among our children. Most children in our country these days have uninhibited access to gadgets like smartphones and tablets, and thus the internet. They play online video games, watch digital content and even have independent profiles on social networking platforms.

Indian teens especially, foray into the digital space without a lot parental supervision. They play multiplayer online games and have profiles on not all social networking websites.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • In a survey conducted by a UK-based consumer tech review company, 37% of Indian parents admitted that their children have been victims of cyberbullying at least once.
  • Could unrestrained access to smartphones, tablets and the internet be the reason for this?
  • The more their children are in the vicinity of strangers, without proper guidance, the more they are susceptible to falling prey to cyber-crimes.

What most parents, however, do not realise is that without proper supervision, children become extremely susceptible to falling prey to cyber-crimes. Chat rooms of online multiplayer games and social media are filled not just with sexual predators, but with con men, identity thieves and bullies as well. Such people do not shy away from cornering children and exploiting or hurting them. Especially on social media, trolls are waiting at every possible digital corner, to be offended by anything and everything.

It doesn’t affect bullies that their victims may suffer from psychological trauma due to their actions. Hence, the onus of protecting children falls on us as society and parents.

Awareness Among Parents

Which brings us to the second way of interpreting the survey. The significant rise in the number of parents who have admitted that their children are victims of cyberbullying can be a result of the rise in awareness about the issue at hand. Which is good news, because identifying and accepting the existence of a problem is the first step in solving it.

Safely Navigating the Digital Space

This awareness will also motivate parents to work with school authorities and psychologist and help children navigate safely in digital spaces. It is nearly impossible to rid the cyber world of bullies altogether. What we can do, apart from trying to curb it, is to teach our children how to deal with it. If at all a child faces cyberbullying, our next step should be to help him or her heal.

Checking Aggression

Lastly, cyberbullying in our country is on the rise because aggressive tendencies, in general, are in ascension. This problem is also a reflection of where we as a society are headed from a behavioural point of view. So if we want to protect our children from cyberbullying, then as a society we need to check our need to dominate others and tone it down.

Pic by NY Times

Also Read : Parenting Dilemma – When to Stop Kissing Your Child on the Lips

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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