Thursday, May 14, 2015

Parental Involvement Key In Decreasing Cyber-Harrassing Incidences

By David Simms, Senior Contributor
The Global Institute for Cyber Safety and Standards

Recent trends in youth cyber-bullying indicate a sharp decrease in large cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, where research shows greater parental involvement. This is ironically contrasted with increased social media penetration in smaller towns where generally less parental control is reported.

It seems there is a rather strong correlation between parents having free and clear access to their children’s accounts, and a trend of less reported incidents of cyber-bullying behaviours. Experts are calling this an indicator that knowledge of one’s parents monitoring actions online is enough to deter most young people from instigating or participating in bullying and other harrassment behaviours. They stretch further to suggest adults would react quite similarly – refraining from cyber-harassment activity – under like circumstances and with the impending sense of consequences for their actions.  

Children fear immediate repercussions from their parents and are under their authority. In most Indian households parental authority is respected and abided by. However, in the adult world, the authority structure necessarily shifts to allow for more autonomy and rights such as privacy. This is so because there is an expectation of maturity and awareness of one’s actions. Interestingly however, the same bully-like behaviours experienced online by children are also seen in adults. It is alarmingly common to see child-like immaturity in many adults who, under the right circumstances, will act out as reckless children. Unfortunately, it takes a sense of consequence and threat of punishment to quell these destructive behaviours for both young and old.  

One key problem arises when right-to-privacy issues come to bear. Whereas children have little privacy with their parents as the monitoring authority and wielders of discipline, adults have ample rights to privacy and with no monitoring, especially on the Internet. It seems for adults a better balance must be struck between reasonable monitoring and the complete lack thereof. Until this happens, there is no doubt the problem of cyber-harassment and all its forms and degrees will continue on indefinitely creating further victim hazard and tangible loss and impeding authorities from dispensing appropriate justice. Much has been done to combat the issues of internet safety and these destructive behaviours but until the safety and standards community stops chipping away at the surface consequences and begins to address the underlying causes and ways to cut them off at the pass, we can expect to boast little about any true degree of change leading to a safer online navigation for users trusting they will be safe when logging on.