Melissa Dempsey Cyberbullying Still a Concern Interview

Melissa Dempsey Cyberbullying Still a Concern Interview

80% of Australian Parents are concerned about Cyberbullying: Norton Australia Report

Norton by Symantec has released parenting data from its 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report (NCSIR) published last month. Through a survey of Australians parents across the country, this research reveals the chief concerns of Australian parents when it comes their child and how they behave online.

This year, Norton's NCSIR parenting data found that 80 per cent of parents are now worried their child will be bullied online. With the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner finding that 82 per cent of all Australian teens had gone online in the last month, it is important to recognise that cyberbullying doesn't stop when the child leaves school – as long as they are connected to a device, a bully can connect to them.

'Cyberbullying can be a sensitive subject and the conversations around online security are often thrown into the -too hard' basket," said Melissa Dempsey, Senior Director of Symantec's Norton Business Unit in Asia Pacific and Japan. 'But these are important discussions for parents to have with their children to help ensure the child's security and wellbeing, the same way we as parents have conversations around homework, diet and sleep schedules."

The online threats that concern Australian parents the most
In addition to cyberbullying, 2017 saw a huge spike in online safety concerns reported by Australian parents, including:

Spending too much time in front of a screen (88 per cent)
Downloading a malicious program/virus (85 per cent – up from 60 percent in 2016)
Giving out too much personal information to strangers (82 per cent – up from 58 per cent in 2016)
Posting something that will come back to haunt them in the future (76 per cent – up from 49 per cent in 2016)
Being lured into meeting a stranger (74 per cent – up from 50 per cent in 2016)

Online parental supervision still lacking
Despite growing concerns, parental supervision of children online is still not common practice, and the level of preventative measures put in place to protect children and family-owned devices has decreased from 2016. In fact, less than a quarter of Australian parents reported always supervising their children online. While, 47 per cent always supervise their children while online shopping and 36 per cent during video communication, only 26 per cent report always supervising their children when using social media, and 29 per cent when checking or writing emails.

37 per cent of parents only allow access to certain content and websites
23 per cent allow Internet access only with parental supervision (down 12 per cent on 2016); 26 per cent review or approve all apps before they are downloaded (down 11 per cent on 2016)
32 per cent check their child's browser history (down 6 per cent on 2016)
25 per cent limit the amount of information their child can post on their social profiles (down 6 per cent on 2016); 24 per cent set parental controls though the home router
32 per cent require computer use to take place in common areas (down 5 per cent on 2016)

Spotting the signs of cyberbullying
While more Australian parents are wary of online harassment and bullying than ever before, many are not armed with the information they need to recognise the signs. Feelings of embarrassment or fear mean children who fall to cyberbullying are often hesitant to come forward, placing the onus on parents to take action.

To help parents, teachers and guardians spot the signs, here are a few examples that indicate a child is being cyberbullied:

They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email
Their habits with devices change. They may begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively
They make excuses to avoid going to school
They become defensive or secretive about online activity
They withdraw from friends and family
They have physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain
They begin falling behind in school or acting out
Their grades start declining
They appear especially angry, frustrated or sad, particularly after going online/checking devices
They delete social media or email accounts

Dealing with cyberbullying
The best way to respond to cyberbullying is to proactively encourage and maintain an open dialogue about the issue. Through constant conversation, children are more likely to confide their feelings with parents as this is an empathetic way of dealing with it. Another way to counter cyberbullying is to establish house rules and guidelines on online etiquette, such as using strong passwords and installing security software such as Norton Security Premium.

To learn more about cyberbullying signs, and for tips on how to start an open conversation about online security, visit http://norton.com/cyberbullying.


Interview with Melissa Dempsey, Senior Director of Symantec's Norton Business Unit in Asia Pacific and Japan

Question: Why do you think 80% of parents are still concerned about cyberbullying?

Melissa Dempsey: Parents across Australia should be concerned about cyberbullying and this awareness is growing in part due to three main reasons.

The first is due to the growing media attention cyberbullies and child victims have received in the past year, including the tragic story of Amy 'Dolly" Everett that shook parents and teachers across the country earlier this year.
We are seeing greater momentum from schools and youth focused organisations discussing the affects and risks of engaging in cyber bullying behavior. This issue is certainly one that will benefit from an -it takes a village" approach where we are looking out for evidence of bullying and signs of its affects amongst our kids and teenagers.
The third reason is that, for many parents, how their child behaves online is still a great mystery (what they're reading and viewing and who they're connecting with). The internet is an awesome tool to arm tomorrow's minds with the knowledge and inspiration to grow but the reality is that parents today didn't grow up with the Internet, so we haven't had the experience as we find with most parenting skills. It's not unusual for parents to feel they could be better armed with information required to protect their children as they study and play online, nor to recognise the signs of cyberbullying and respond if it ever becomes an issue.

Our 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report (NCSIR) found that the appropriate measures to prevent cyberbullying among children, such as online parental supervision, are still lacking among Australian parents. This is despite a huge spike in online safety concerns reported by Australian parents from 2016 to 2017.

Though it's positive to see that a growing number of Australian parents are now aware of cyberbullying as a real risk to their child's wellbeing, it is important they have access to actionable steps that help address these issues quickly.


Question: How can parents educate their children to ease their concern?

Melissa Dempsey: Cyberbullying can be a sensitive subject and feelings of embarrassment or fear mean children who fall victim to cyberbullying often hesitate to come forward. This means the onus is on parents to bring cyberbullying into every day conversation, the same way discussions are had around homework, diet and sleep schedules.

The best way for parents to respond to cyberbullying is to proactively encourage and maintain an open dialogue with their child on staying safe while online.

Another way for parents to educate their children on cyberbullying is by establishing guidelines on online etiquette and simple house rules limiting the information children are able to share online.


Question: What signs and symptoms of cyberbullying should parents look for in their children?

Melissa Dempsey: A few examples that indicate a child is being cyberbullied include:

They appear nervous when receiving a text/online message or email
Their habits with devices change. They may begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively
They make excuses to avoid going to school
They become defensive or secretive about online activity
They withdraw from friends and family
They have physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain
They begin falling behind in school or acting out
Their grades start declining
They appear especially angry, frustrated or sad, particularly after going online/checking devices
They delete social media or email accounts


Question: What advice do you have for parents around supervision of their children's online activity?

Melissa Dempsey: The 2017 NCSIR found that the level of preventative measures put in place to protect children and family-owned devices has decreased from 2016. In fact, in 2017 Norton found that just:

23 per cent of Australian parents allow Internet access only with parental supervision (down 12 per cent on 2016); 26 per cent review or approve all apps before they are downloaded (down 11 per cent on 2016)
32 per cent check their child's browser history (down 6 per cent on 2016)
25 per cent limit the amount of information their child can post on their social profiles (down 6 per cent on 2016); 24 per cent set parental controls though the home router
32 per cent require computer use to take place in common areas (down 5 per cent on 2016)

It's not always possible to supervise children online. In the instances where children are connecting out of sight (at school, at a friend's house, at the library), parents are encouraged to establish guidelines on online etiquette and security best practice, such as usage of strong passwords, having rules in place around a child's access to other people's devices without permission, and installing security software such as Norton Security Premium.

As long as children are interacting with friends, participating in Internet forums or even playing multi-player games online, they could be at risk of cyberbullying, so careful parental supervision of children online is critically important and there are tools like Norton Security Premium to help monitor activity.


Question: At what age do you believe parents can ease supervision of online activity and replace it with discussions?

Melissa Dempsey: Parents should feel comfortable openly discussing cyberbullying and cyber risks with their children as soon as they or their peers begin interacting with the world online. It is important to build a strong foundation from the outset, educating children on the risks as well as benefits of the online world, setting boundaries and creating an environment of open conversation and trust.


Question: What information does a parent need to provide regarding teenagers and social media accounts?

Melissa Dempsey: Over 80 per cent of children have been online in the last month, and with more children signing up for social media accounts than years past, the way they socialise with friends, broadcast their lives, and interact with the world around them has evolved.

One of the most important insights a parent can share when it comes to social media is that a child's social life does not stop when they come home from school. While social media opens the door to connecting with friends and family in real-time and in the moment, it also means that as long as children are connected to a device, a bully can connect to them.

For teenagers, social media also represents a new platform to share their most important moments or the trials and tribulations of the day-to-day. As the time children spend socialising online has increased, sharing personal details, photos and private information has become second nature. 2017 saw a huge spike in the number of Australian parents citing concerns that their child is giving out too much personal information to strangers (82 per cent – up from 58 per cent in 2016) and posting something that will come back to haunt them in the future (76 per cent – up from 49 per cent in 2016).

-Stranger danger' no longer applies just to the physical world so it has never been more important for parents to speak to their teenagers about putting the appropriate privacy settings in place across all devices that are connected to the Internet.

To help manage this, clear education and guidelines are the keys to managing teenager usage.
Build the foundation of trust by putting healthy boundaries on usage levels and times your teen is online.
Teach them to have a healthy set of values and respect of their own privacy, so they understand what's appropriate and inappropriate to post
Encourage them with lots of positive reinforcement for good behaviors because ultimately we all want our kids to have a healthy level of self-esteem in the real world so they don't solely rely on social media as a form of self actualisation.


Interview by Brooke Hunter




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