Gone are the days when school holidays acted as a safe haven from bullying peers and fellow school students. Now that social media activity is rife among (even primary) school children, it is more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to monitoring their online activity over the school holidays.
Britain has recently dropped out of the proposed EU law to increase the age of consent for creating social media accounts, including Facebook and Instagram, to 16. This means that thousands of young teenagers receiving smartphones and tablets this Christmas could be setting up social media accounts to share information, pictures, and contact details online.
While social media certainly has its perks, such as keeping in contact with friends and discussing school work whilst in the comfort of your own home, it also creates countless opportunities for bullies to take advantage of including photo-sharing apps, group chats, even anonymity and disguises in the form of fake profiles.
Experts claim that cyber bullying, which can include name calling, rumours, and sharing doctored images, severely impacts young peoples’ lives. Online bullying is easy to go unnoticed, unlike physical violence and, in extreme cases, it can lead to self-harm or suicide.
The 2013 CyberBullying Survey by UK anti-bullying charity revealed that 70% of young people have been cyber-bullied yet only 55% of victims report the incidents. The 2015 Anti-Bullying survey by the same charity found that 29% of bullying victims have self-harmed, 27% have skipped class, 14% developed an eating disorder, and 12% ran away from home, highlighting the very real and physical consequences of virtual communication.
As children become more tech-savvy and are given access to an infinite online world, it is more important than ever to find ways of monitoring risks like cyber bullying and predatory strangers.
Click here to find out more about how you can protect your children online.