Do your school-going children use cellphones? Beware, they may be prone to cyberbullying | sex and relationships | Hindustan Times
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Do your school-going children use cellphones? Beware, they may be prone to cyberbullying

If you thought that giving a cell phone to your child will help you stay in touch with them, it can also backfire. Research says it may make your children victims of cyberbullying.

sex and relationships Updated: Sep 16, 2017 14:51 IST
Continuous access to social media increases online interaction which provides more opportunities to engage both positively and negatively with peers.
Continuous access to social media increases online interaction which provides more opportunities to engage both positively and negatively with peers.(Shutterstock)

Giving cell phones to your kids can make them more prone to cyberbullying, suggests a recent study. The research, which was focused on cell phone ownership among children in third to fifth grades, finds that these children might be particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying. During research, experts collected data on 4,584 students from grades 3, 4 and 5 between 2014 and 2016.

According to the study, 9.5% of children were reported as being a victim of cyberbullying. Cell phone owners in grades three and four were more likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying. Across all three grades, more cell phone owners admitted they have been a cyberbully themselves.

Elizabeth K. Englander, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Mass said, “Parents often cite the benefits of giving their child a cell phone, but our research suggests that giving young children these devices may have unforeseen risks as well.”

Continuous access to social media increases online interaction which provides more opportunities to engage both positively and negatively with peers, and increases the chance of an impulsive response to peers’ postings and messages. This research is a reminder for parents to consider the risks as well as the benefits when deciding whether to provide their elementary school-aged child a cell phone.

Englander added, “At the very least, parents can engage in discussions and education with their child about the responsibilities inherent in owning a mobile device, and the general rules for communicating in the social sphere.” The study was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

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