According to the study Growing Up Online – Connected Kids, conducted by Kaspersky Lab and iconKids & Youth, the consequences of cyberbullying for the majority of young victims of online harassment include serious problems with health and socialisation.
According to the study, 16 percent of the children surveyed are more afraid of being bullied online than offline, while half (50 percent) are equally afraid of both real-life and virtual bullying.
Kaspersky Lab advises parents to not downplay the dangers of cyberbullying. Despite the fact that the study found only four percent of children admitted to being bullied online (compared to 12 percent in real life), in seven out of 10 cases the consequences were traumatic.
Bullying on the Internet seriously affected their emotional well-being: parents of 37 percent of the victims reported lower self-esteem, 30 percent saw a deterioration in their performance at school, and 28 percent cited depression. In addition, 25 percent of parents stated that cyberbullying had disrupted their child’s sleep patterns and caused nightmares (21 percent). Another 26 percent of parents noticed that their child had started avoiding contact with other children, and 20 percent discovered their child had anorexia.
Just as worrying are the statistics showing that 20 percent of children witnessed others being bullied online, and in 7 percent of cases even participated in it. The survey shows that children often hide incidents of cyberbullying from their parents, making the task of protecting them even more complicated, though, fortunately, not impossible.
Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, said, “In an effort to protect our children from danger, we mustn’t forget that they not only live in the real world but also in the virtual world, which is just as real to them. On the Internet, children socialise, learn new things, have fun and, unfortunately, encounter unpleasant situations. Cyberbullying is one of the most dangerous things that can confront a child on the Internet, because it can have a negative impact on their psyche and cause problems for the rest of their lives. The best solution in this case is to talk to your child and to use parental control software that can alert you to any suspicious changes to their social network page.”