One in three Australian children experience cyberbullying: Symantec

Latest report by security vendor finds most kids prefer to keep their online activities secret from parents

A Symantec report has found one in three Australian children have been the victim of cyberbullying.

The annual Norton Report: Family Edition for 2012-2013 found boys (30 per cent) and girls (33 per cent) had experienced negative online situations equally.

Symantec senior principal systems engineer, Nick Savvides, said these local results were in line with what Symantec has seen internationally from the nations surveyed.

Even though a large number of Australian children were harmed by such situations, the report found 76 percent continue to hide from adults what they do online.

Savvides attributed this to children wanting independence and a desire keep their lives private, with 40 per cent of respondents admitting to changing their behaviour when observed.

“They are hiding these activities not for bad reasons, but in an attempt to have a sense of privacy,” he said.

Kids typically hide their activities in terms of social media, which Savvides points out are the opposite of hiding and encourage sharing.

“Children may want to hide things from their parents, but instead chose to share online with people they may not know very well,” he said.

Leading by example

After encountering a negative experience online, 55 per cent of children said they spoke to their parents about it

Savvides admits that half of all kids not reporting these problems to adults is “troubling.”

To overcome this, Savvides recommends having an open relationship with children and taking the time to understand what they are doing online and making them comfortable about sharing their online activities.

“You have to ensure you are not impinging on their freedoms, but offering them a trusted source to speak to about any issues they come across online,” he said.

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“If you don’t have that open dialogue, then they won’t tell you.”

Savvides also recommends leading by example and share some experiences that you have had online, as “adults are equally affected by negative online experiences.”

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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