Only 8% of parents aware of Facebook bullying

Few parents are aware of Facebook bullying because their children are increasingly accessing social networks and other websites from devices that aren't the easy-to-monitor family computer.

Two cyberbullying studies by comScore and NDP, both commissioned by social network monitoring service SocialShield, were released today. About half of parents are aware that bullying on Facebook happens, but a significantly lower fraction knows their child has been a victim.

More specifically, the research studies revealed that less than 8 percent of parents are aware of cyberbullying incidents involving their own child. Previous estimates have shown that anywhere between 15 percent of teenagers and 20 percent of children have been victimized by cyberbullying. The surveys polled more than 4,000 parents collectively.

Parents are often perplexed by why they don't know about such a large percentage of cyberbullying incidents. The main reason is because today's kids are conducting social networking activities in a number of different locations, using a wide variety of devices, and across a broad range of media platforms. While most parents think their kids will tell them about cyberbullying, behavior indicates they don't for the following reasons:

  • They're embarrassed about the situation
  • They're afraid of backlash from the bully or others
  • They fear losing access to their computer
  • They're worried they did something wrong

52 percent of the parents SocialShield surveyed report that their child accesses social networks from the family computer, where the parent could theoretically watch over their child's shoulder. That being said, 42 percent of parents also report that their child accesses social networks on his or her own computer, while 25 percent do so from their cell phones. 8 percent of children access social networks from a tablet or handheld device, another 8 percent from a friends' computer, and 5 percent from a school computer.

Although 36 percent of parents report that they friend their child in order to track his or her social networking activity, behavior shows that a large percentage of activities take place via private chat messages, groups, closed forums, personal SMS texts, and other forms of communication that cannot be viewed by even the most diligent parent.

"Unfortunately, the monitoring techniques that most parents think are good enough to help keep their kids safe, are often not good enough," SocialShield CEO George Garrick said in a statement. "There is simply too much content being created by our kids and their peers - not to mention predators - for parents to keep track of without help. We expect this situation to only intensify in 2012 as more social networks develop and more kids get involved."

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