With Kaspersky Labs
Last week I participated in a Google Hangout with three other UK bloggers as part of the Mumsnet Bloggers Research Panel for National Anti-Bullying Week 2015. Kaspersky Labs, (which happens to be my anti-virus software programme) hosted the talk during the Google Hangout, with David Emm, principal security researcher at the company, illustrating the problem of cyberbullying in today’s digital society. David Emm is an authority on all things internet security and is regularly interviewed by the media to gain his expertise on keeping people safe on the Internet.
The Hangout was fascinating insofar as an older parent, I was surprised to learn just how young some children are nowadays, when they are allowed to access the web, as well as have their own tablets, mobile phones and game stations that also have chat room facilities. You may wonder why a food and travel writer/blogger was so interested in this subject, well, I am a parent, and even as an adult I have been exposed to a form of cyber bullying, so I was keen to discuss and learn how younger parents manage to juggle this relatively modern and new problem within their families.
We covered many diverse questions and topics, such as the following:
- The disconnect between the age that young people begin to use social platforms and the age that parents assume they do.
- How internet-savvy children are becoming in the digital age – do they know more than their parents?
- Top tips on how parents can help to keep their children safe on-line.
- After illustrating the problems mentioned above, David then provided sound advice around the importance of having a collaborative relationship with children and encouraging them to talk openly about potential on-line threats and worries about on-line safety.
The overall consensus from all of us who participated in the research panel was that the fast pace and future of technology was a real worry for parents, and that we all have to walk a tight rope between allowing our children to explore their world and exercise their curiosity, without the putting themselves in the firing line for bullies which will result in hurt and pain. Cyber bullying is worse, it appears, on social media sites such as FaceBook and Instagram, where children are vulnerable to jealousy, taunting and on-line virtual verbal abuse. Some steps that were discussed in the hangout that may help to rectify the above cyber bullying problems were:
- Have your children identify five people who they can go to in a case of bullying or when they were hurt and upset.
- Not allowing children to use devices and applications until they are legally of age to do so.
- Never allow children to use their laptops, tablets, iPads or phones in secret – make it all part of a family activity that is restricted to certain times of the week and/or evening.
- Openly discuss with children the problems that may occur such as we would with “stranger danger” and road safety as in the green cross code.
The overall message that I came away was that education in relation to children’s on-line activity and their ability to access devices starts at home, and that we as parents are responsible for educating them when using technology and accessing the web. There also has to be firm lines drawn between furtive access to social media and using it as part of a family activity, at RESTRICTED times of the week.
Disclaimer: I was asked to participate in this Google hangout discussion and was compensated for my time with an on-line sales voucher and a brunch hamper.
the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.“children may be reluctant to admit to being the victims of cyberbullying”