Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Parents told of online bully risks

Workshops offered for parents of social-media savvy youngsters.

Social media specialist Adam Crouchley. Photo / Supplied
Social media specialist Adam Crouchley. Photo / Supplied

A third of children have been bullied online and two thirds have seen incidents of internet harassment, prompting specialists to warn parents they need to do more to keep their kids safe.

Children as young as 7 were posting on sites such as Twitter and YouTube so parents needed to keep track of what children were being exposed to, said social media specialist Adam Crouchley.

Statistics from TRU Insights and McAfee show 35 per cent of New Zealand kids have been bullied or picked on online, and two out of three have witnessed bullying online. Only 10 per cent of parents were aware their children had been been bullied.

Crouchley and business partner Quentin Weber have designed workshops for parents to help them learn more about the risks and how to increase online safety.

"Soon, everyone will have an iPad or tablet and that is like having Facebook and other sites in your pocket," Crouchley said.

"Social media are not going away so parents need to get involved so they can keep their children safe."

High-profile cases such as that of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, who was harassed relentlessly online until she killed herself, have sparked calls for more controls.

Current statistics show 2,267,300 New Zealanders already use Facebook, but youths are increasingly signing up to sites such as Twitter and YouTube, neither of which have age restrictions.

Crouchley said it had become common for people to bully others through Twitter to get more followers. Others set up anonymous Facebook pages to reveal secrets or make up stories about others.

There were plenty of settings and restrictions parents could use to limit the time their children were online and restrict who had access to their accounts.

There needed to be arrangements where parents were "friended" by their children but agreed not to post embarrassing photos or comments, he said, which could drive their children away.

Parents did not need to be social media-savvy to understand the workshops.

Information can be found at www.socialmediaseminars.co.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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