Every second child surveyed in Mumbai had been bullied online about their looks or level of intelligence among other things, according to a new report released on Monday.
The occurrence of cyber bullying in the city was found to be higher than the national average of one in three children.
McAfee’s Teens, Tweens and Technology 2014 report had surveyed 1,422 children from metro cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Around 53% of children between eight and 17 years said that they had been bullied online, while 38% admitted to bullying others on social media.
Cyber bullying entails the use of technology to harass, embarrass or target a person. The report highlighted that cases of cyber bullying were high in the city owing to children’s risky online social behaviour.
As many as 95% of the children surveyed were indulging in risky online behaviour such as posting intimate details, contacts, school address, parents names on social media, and even hacking into the accounts of others. Of these, 40% are tweens – those aged between eight and 12 years.
“Internet-enabled devices collect information about online behaviour, track location and links to social media accounts that are vulnerable to threats, that can disrupt devices and extract personal data, leading to cyber bullying and identity theft,” said Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering (consumer and mobile), McAfee India Centre, McAfee, part of Intel Security.
Unfortunately, though schools hold awareness programmes on cyber-safety for teenagers, children below 10 years of age are left out.
“We do not conduct workshops for children at such a young age because they are not mature enough to understand it,” said Father Kenneth Misquitta, principal, St Mary’s School, ICSE, Mazgaon.
There is also a lack of parental involvement in children’s online activities. Only 39% of parents surveyed have had a conversation with their children about online safety, while 52% of the children said that their parents were unconcerned about their online activities.