The leading online monitoring service for kids' social networking activities, SocialShield, released some concerning findings today from a consumer study. The study surveyed more than 4,000 parents and reveals that less than 8% are aware of cyberbullying incidents involving their own child.
According to George Garrick, SocialShield's CEO, "Unfortunately, the monitoring techniques that most parents think are good enough to help keep their kids safe, are often not good enough. 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."
Why don't parents know? Kids today are conducting social networking activities in different locations and using a wide variety of devices. They are also communicating across a broad range of media platforms. Of the parents SocialShield surveyed, 52% report their child accesses social networks from the family computer, 42% on his or her own computer, 25% from cell phones, 8% from tablets or handheld devices, 8% from a friends' computer and 5% from school computers.
Another reason parents are unaware is that most believe their children will tell them about cyberbullying incidents. Unfortunately many kids don't tell because they're embarrassed about the situation, worried they did something wrong or they're afraid of backlash from the bully. They also fear losing access to their computer.
According to the study results, 36% of parents surveyed use the most common monitoring technique by "friending" their child to track his or her social networking activity. Unfortunately behavior shows that kids often use chat messages, groups, closed forums, personal SMS texts and other forms of communication (24% of cyberbullying incidents reported occurred on cell phones) that are more difficult to monitor and often escape even the most diligent parents.