Two in five NZ children harmed by cybercrime

SND4--4-CyberCrimeSymantec last week announced findings from its Norton Report: Family Edition which revealed two in five (43 per cent) New Zealand children have been harmed by cybercrime and/or a negative online situation during 2012-2013.

The annual report was released to coincide with this year’s Connect Smart Week (June 16-22, 2014).

The Symantec study reveals 57 per cent of New Zealand children who were harmed by cybercrime and/or a negative online situation admitted to hiding what they do online from adults (i.e. parents and teachers). In addition, while cybercrime affects both sexes, with those harmed split evenly between females and males (44 per cent for girls and 41 per cent for boys), more than twice as many Kiwi girls as boys have been bullied online (17 per cent versus eight per cent).

The Norton Report: Family Edition, which surveyed over 350 New Zealanders (148 adults and 203 children), looked at issues affecting children and parents in the digital age and examined their online behaviours, attitudes and security habits with a focus on cyberbullying.

“As social media and the online world continues to infiltrate our lives and that of young people, cyberbullying remains a very real online danger due to the damaging effect on people’s mental health,” Brenton Smith, vice president and managing director, Pacific region, Symantec said.

“Awareness is extremely important, and we encourage parents to provide confidence to their children to share their bad online experiences with them or another adult. Our current research indicates that Kiwi parents are in the dark about cyberbullying, with many unaware of whether their child is being harmed by cyberbullying or harming others and therefore unable to provide necessary support.

“Online safety requires a combination of open and ongoing dialogue and education between parents and children. While two thirds (67 per cent) of the children surveyed saying they spoke to their parents about their negative online experience, only 22 per cent stayed away from where they were bullied online. It is clear more education is needed to enable children to make informed decisions about seeking help when dealing with cyberbullies,” Mr  Smith said.

Mark Shaw, technology strategist – information security, Symantec Pacific region, said the study shows young people continue to have negative online experiences and may not be seeking help.

“It’s alarming that the Norton Report: Family Edition showed almost one in five (17 per cent) New Zealand children have been responsible for causing another person to have a negative online experience. What they might think is just a joke can be extremely distressing for the person on the receiving end. We need to make sure our young people understand the impact cyberbullying can have on other people’s mental health.

“Cyberbullying affects so many young people at a particularly vulnerable stage. It is a cruel and unpleasant activity. Children need to be able to explore, discover and enjoy their time online but they also need boundaries to know what is acceptable online behaviour,” he said.
Top 10 tips for parents and children

  • Set aside time to discuss appropriate online behaviour and create age-appropriate “House Rules”  about how computers, smart phones and gaming systems are used at home
  • For parents, be a positive role model and be aware that children like to imitate your behaviour
  • Do not share private information like passwords, name and address, phone numbers with people you don’t know
  • If you are being harassed online, block the harasser and report the situation to an adult such as a parent or teacher
  • Do not respond to the harasser/s online as this could encourage them to continue
  • Find out how to report bullying and harassment on each of the social networks that you use
  • Keep a record of calls, messages, posts and emails that may be offensive and harmful
  • Use privacy options wisely on social networking sites
  • Use strong, unique passwords on all your accounts and devices, especially mobile phones and install security software on all devices
  • Be kind. If you have harassed a person online: apologise, take down any offensive material as soon as possible and talk
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