Primus is partnering with PREVNet to develop an e-learning program on online safety for adults
Cyberbullying is more concerning than teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, according to Canadian parents based on a recent survey conducted by Primus Telecommunication Canada, Inc., and PREVNet.
In recent years, bullying has become such a large concern that in 2012, the Education Act in Alberta was revised to define the term. Bullying is "repeated and hostile or demeaning behaviour by an individual in the school community where the behaviour is intended to cause harm, fear or distress to one or more other individuals in the school community, including psychological harm or harm to an individual's reputation."
A recent research survey, Protecting Canadian Families Online was conducted from April 22 to April 28 of last year on the issue of cyberbullying. It was known that cyberbullying was a concern, but to what extent?
The results of the survey conducted by Primus Telecommunication Canada Inc., partnered with PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) state that 48 per cent of Canadian parents are more concerned with cyberbullying than with teen pregnancy (44 per cent), drug use (40 per cent) or alcohol use (38 per cent).
Wendy Craig, the scientific co-director of PREVNet said, "Cyberbullying is likely becoming a bigger concern for parents due to the significance of its impact on children and the fact that kids nowadays are spending even more time online."
According to the survey, "Parents believe they are most responsible for their child's online safety. The majority of parents (81 per cent) feel that they are most responsible for protecting their children from cyberbullying."
In Alberta, 89 per cent of parents were likely to assign primary responsibility for their children's safety to themselves."Cyberbullying continues to be a serious and prevalent issue among Canadian youth today."
-Brad Fisher, Primus executive
When parents were asked who else should be responsible for protecting their child they responded with "schools (54 per cent), social media companies (41 per cent), the government (31 per cent) and friends (30 per cent)."
To get these results, Primus ran the survey using LegerWeb, Leger's online panel. The survey targeted 1,000 parents from across Canada who have at least one child between the ages of eight and 16 who have access to the Internet in their home.
The survey isn't just providing information on how parents feel about cyberbullying in Canada, though. Primus and PREVNet are working together on an online program for families to learn how to use the Internet safely and how to monitor online activity and spot the warning signs of cyberbullying.
Primus executive, Brad Fisher, said despite Canadian parents' concern regarding cyberbullying, there still needs to be awareness and education on this issue.
"There are a number of ways parents can help promote online safety, but the key is that they need to educate themselves first and take a more proactive approach in knowing how their children behave online and use the Internet," Fisher said.
Some practices parents can utilize is to communicate with their children about the risks of sharing information such as pictures online, and explain the importance of not interacting with people that are unknown.
Currently the online program is still being developed in Toronto. Primus and PREVNet are hoping to pilot the program with an organization in the Greater Toronto Area.
With how popular medias and technologies that have the ability to connect to the Internet are for youth, Primus and PREVNet are scheduling to launch the program later this year.
"The rate of digital interactions will only increase as technology continues to evolve," Craig explained.
"The challenge we all face as parents and adults working with youth — and this is something we hear consistently from youth — is that kids don't think their parents can help, or protect them, when it comes to cyberbullying. They don't see their parents as being savvy or as connected online, which is a problem that needs to be addressed and fixed," Craig said.
"Cyberbullying continues to be a serious and prevalent issue among Canadian youth today—one that has devastating consequences to their self-esteem and mental health," said Fisher.
The government of Alberta has resources online for parents and children, with videos, quizzes and statistics available for understanding bullying in all of its forms.
The survey validity had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
- By JALINE PANKRATZ