After reports that Facebook is losing teen users, the social network has released a way for parents and children to deal with cyberbullying.
The new step is considered a beneficial but belated one, according to NPR. Facebook’s new Safety Center about bullying is considered a prevention hub with resources for teachers, teens and parents on how to deal with both online and offline bullying. There will also be ways for users to deal offensive posts which mainly consists of engaging the potential cyberbully.
… the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, backed by New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins, [is set] to crack down on bullying via social networking, email, mobile phones and websites.
It creates a new criminal offence for sending messages or posting material online with intent to cause harm – including threatening and offensive messages, harassment, damaging rumours and invasive photographs – with penalties of up to three months’ imprisonment or a $NZ2000 ($1766) fine.
It also creates a new offence of incitement to commit suicide – even in situations when a person does not attempt to take their life – punishable by up to three years’ jail.
The Age has recently reported that in a bizarre cry for help, some teenagers who appear to be victims of cyberbullying are actually using social media platforms to self harm.
Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Centre found that up to 10 per cent of first-year university students had ”falsely posted a cruel remark against themselves, or cyberbullied themselves, during high school”.
For the ”digital self-harmer” the presence of an audience appears to serve other purposes too. Anonymously calling oneself a ”loser” online allows them to test out other people’s attitudes: do other people see me this way too? Is my perception of myself shared universally?
Nearly 80 per cent of Australian children under 10 years of age use social networks. Among older teenagers – those 16 and 17 – parents underestimate bullying and risky online behaviour. But the most likely candidate for cyber-bullying is a 14 year old girl who checks her Facebook account daily.
By the time teenagers are 16, parents start to underestimate the likelihood of their child being bullied or involved in upsetting experiences. Only 17 per cent of parents said their 16-year-old was bothered by something on the internet, but 26 per cent of teenagers of that age said they suffered through an upsetting experience.
What is of concern is that once parents believe that their work is done, that their children know how to successfully navigate the social media world is when they are actually most at risk.
A few days ago, The Age reported about a Facebook parenting page that had been the site of cyberbullying by mothers towards other mothers:
After a sharp increase in negative, personal and mean comments, Babyology’s managing editor Mandi Gunsberger advised ”we have made the decision to remove at our discretion any negative or abusive comments … Unless you would make a comment face-to-face, then this negativity does not have a place in our online space,” she said.
What is of huge concern is that adults, who should be role modelling positive internet use to their children, are the perpetrators of cyberbullying. As Babyology’s editor Mandi Gunsberger says, ‘ unless you would make a comment face-to-face, then this negativity does not have a place in our online space.’
A recent article in The Australian newspaper has stated that parents who don’t match their children’s online skills are ill-equipped to deal with all aspects of cybersafety.
THE generation gap has left courts ill-equipped to deal with cyber bullying, a senior judge says.
And a top cop says parents must match their children’s cyber skills to stay a step ahead of online predators.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner (operations) Michael Phelan, who will also speak at the two-day conference beginning on Thursday, urged parents to match their children’s abilities online to ward off trolls and stalkers on social media.
“The digital divide between what children know and what their parents know can mean that we may be one step behind children and, subsequently, one step behind the offenders,” he said.