New study finds parents more concerned about cyberbullying than drugs, teen pregnancy and alcohol

By ParentsCanada staff on January 20, 2015

The times they are a-changing. A new survey by Leger on behalf of Primus Telecommunications shows that parents are more concerned about cyberbullying (48 per cent) than they are about teen pregnancy (44 per cent), drug use (40 per cent) or alcohol use (38 per cent).

To that end, Primus is joining forces with PREVNet, the country’s leading authority on bullying prevention, to develop an e-learning program designed for Canadian parents and adults to use with children and youth. The program is scheduled to launch later this year and will be the first interactive resource of its kind.

Though still in the early stages of development, the program will include resources for adult and child conversations, activities to be completed together, videos to encourage positive role modeling as well as built-in evaluation features to measure the effectiveness of the program. Prior to a national roll out later this year, Primus and PREVNet are searching for a youth-focussed organization in the Greater Toronto Area with whom to pilot the program. To learn more about the program visit primus.ca/elearning

 “Our research clearly shows that online safety has become a top concern for parents across the country and our aim, as one of Canada’s leading ISPs, is to help them understand how to deal with it – even before it becomes a problem,” says Brad Fisher, Primus executive and online safety advocate. “By partnering with PREVNet, we can provide parents and adults working with youth a much-needed resource so they can turn their concerns into positive action. This program will arm them with the knowledge, skills, support and confidence they need to tackle this important issue and, most importantly, protect their kids.”

“The rate of digital interactions will only increase as technology continues to evolve,” says Dr. Wendy Craig, Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet. “The challenge we all face as parents and adults working with youth – and this is something we hear consistently from youth – is that kids don’t think their parents can help or protect them when it comes to cyberbullying. They don’t see their parents as being savvy or as connected online, which is a problem that needs to be addressed and fixed.”

Dr. Craig believes the e-learning program will give parents and adults the tools, resources, and strategies they need to spot the warning signs, initiate positive dialogue between family members and ultimately help children safely navigate the digital world.

The study, titled Protecting Canadian Families Online, revealed some other interesting data:

  • One in five parents admit to sharing intimate photos and/or messages online or via text. Although 36 percent of parents claim to be very worried about their child’s image being shared without consent, one in five parents admit that they, themselves, have sent or received intimate photos and/or messages online or via text. “This e-learning program will teach parents and youth alike that change is a two-way street,” says Brad. “We believe that in launching the program, we can help adults and youth work together to define safe and appropriate online behaviour and put an end to online bullying.”

  • Parents are educating their kids about cyberbullying; but are they doing it right? The survey found that one in 10 parents admit to being aware their child, or one of their child’s friends, has received images or messages online intended to hurt someone. For parents who learn that their child is being cyberbullied, education remains the primary form of defense. Parents teach their children about the risks of sharing information such as pictures (68 percent) and tell their kids not to interact online with people they don't know (61 percent). However, according to PREVNet, youth and adults may not be speaking the same language when it pertains to online communications and cyberbullying prevention.

  • Parents know their ‘underage’ children have Facebook accounts. Nearly one in five parents (16 percent) reported knowing their children between the ages of eight and 10 have a Facebook account, despite a 13-year age minimum in place for having an account.

  • Parents believe they are most responsible for their child’s online safety. The majority of parents (81 percent) feel that they are most responsible for protecting their children from cyberbullying. Interestingly, Ontario parents (77 per cent) are significantly less likely than parents in Quebec (84 percent) and Alberta (89 percent) to assign primary responsibility for their children’s safety to themselves. When parents were asked who else should be responsible for protecting their child they responded schools (54 percent), social media companies (41 percent), the government (31 percent) and friends (30 percent).

By ParentsCanada staff| January 20, 2015

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