According to Teens, Tweens and Technology study 2015, conducted by Intel Security 81 percent of Indian children aged eight 8 and 16 are active on social media networks, and about 22 percent of them are bullied online.
Does your child spend more time on smartphones? Is your child very active on social media? Do you feel that they spend more time online than offline, then it time for you to be on alert?
The risk for Indian kids being cyberbullied has increased over the years. According to available data, India ranks much higher when it comes to cyberbullying, in comparison to other Asian countries.
The rise can be felt with the number of cases we get these days. For instance, a Class V student approached us for a fake Facebook profile created to defame him. Similarly, a Class VIII girl’s Facebook account was hacked for personal vendetta.
Studies have highlighted that 53 percent of the Indian kids in the age group of eight to 17 have been subjected to cyberbullying at least once. Rough calculations say that 13 crore children in the same group will get an access to internet data by the end of year 2017. Thus, this makes Indian children highly vulnerable to cyberbullying. Needless to say, cyberbullying will have an sociological and psychological impact on the young minds.
Cyberbullying can be classified into – direct attacks, and bullying by proxy. Direct cyber attacks, are those in which the attacker targets the victim via:
With ever evolving social media, the threat of child abuse often manifests itself in new avatars like the Blue Whale Challenge and Sarahah. While the BWC is an internet game, which challenges the player to complete 50 tasks, which often compel the child to commit suicide, Sarahah is another online application that allows people to post anonymous comments, which often are rude, mean and embarrassing. Sarahah’s anonymity makes it a potential threat as it can be used to both blackmail children and even send offensive messages, seeking sexual favours.
Such online applications often expose the kids to a greater risk of being abused or bullied online or even are forced to commit suicide.
While most of us would want to believe that our kids are safe and no one would particularly target kids, let’s be honest and face the fact that complete online safety for kids is not possible. There is no particular answer to the question of ‘why kids?’ But data suggests that children often have to bear the burden of child abuse. This is primarily because offenders find it easy to exploit them.
Online abuse mentally disturbs the child, often causing academic loss. Fear of restrictions being imposed on mobile and internet usage often makes the kids not share such incidents with parents. Often, kids have directly approached us, as they didn’t want to share such cases with parents, and we often counsel them.
Parents play can play a vital role in curtailing child abuse, by being more alert and following a few guidelines:
Remember, online abuse is scary, as the child being abused often thinks that there is no way out as the offender can offend anytime, anywhere, even when the child is home. Being your child’s confidante is the only way to protect them from online perverts.
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