Bullying & Internet Safety Are Now Top Child Health Concerns
TeenSafe’s number one priority has always been promoting and providing tools for children’s internet safety. We love that this topic is getting more exposure nationwide – and people are paying attention.
In a new national poll by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, ranking the top concerns for children’s health, Internet Safety had the biggest leap in importance, moving from 8th place (in 2014) to 4th. Over half of all respondents acknowledge that it’s a major concern. This is a survey of parents, not children, and people just like us are recognizing that internet safety really is a major health concern for their children.
The poll also shows that parents continue to recognize that bullying is a severe problem for the health of children. In 2015, the survey noted that 58% of adults regarded bullying as a threat, putting it above issues like drug abuse and neglect.
The majority here is absolutely correct. According to other studies, bullying causes more harm to children than either of those categories (and when child abuse is the lesser problem, you know an issue is pretty bad).
Parents aren’t alone in this opinion, either. YouGov – an international research firm – recently conducted a survey on behalf of telecommunications company Vodafone asking teens what the biggest problems were, and the worldwide results were quite fascinating. Notably, a fifth of all teens who said they’d been cyberbullied had considered suicide, and many considered cyberbullying to be a bigger problem than drug abuse.
The survey also found that in most countries, a majority believed cyberbullying was worse than face-to-face bullying – possibly because so many teens have invested so much of their time and emotion into their digital life.
“I Felt Completely Alone”
That was the response of 26% of those surveyed when asked about how cyberbullying made them feel. This shouldn’t be surprising – bullying has always focused on isolating people and making them feel like they have no support because people who are happy and surrounded by friends aren’t easy to bully.
It’s also a pretty safe bet that most of the kids who felt suicidal were among those who felt alone.
There’s another important aspect to this that we need to consider – teens who spend all of their time online aren’t forming deep relationships with others. We’re not just saying that, either – there’s some evidence to back it up
Namely, 43% of teens said they wouldn’t reach out to help others, in part because they couldn’t find the right words to support their friends. Even when teens do have friends online, they won’t necessarily be able to count on those friends for support… and when nobody speaks up, it’s not hard to imagine why they feel so alone.
From Awareness to Action
Every source we’ve checked agrees that our society is becoming aware of how important internet safety is – but awareness alone is never enough resolve a problem. To actually improve your child’s safety, rather than merely reading about it, check out our Top 20 Digital Safety Tips infographic.