Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children using social media.
Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children using social media. DAN PELED

Social media worse than drugs and alcohol, say parents

PARENTS are now more worried about their children using social media than drugs, alcohol and smoking, new research has revealed.

Chief executive of youth service ReachOut, Jono Nicholas, said the findings from a survey of nearly 900 Australian parents of children aged 12 to 18 also saw them rank cyber bullying as the biggest negative with social media use.

"This is the issue of our time. When we are asking parents, schools and governments to do more, we must also ask social media companies to come to the party,” he said.

"When Australian parents say they are significantly more concerned about their children using social media and technology than drugs, alcohol and smoking (43% compared with 25% respectively), it's not good enough for social media companies to tell us they are doing enough.

"Social media is the car of the 21st century - it's opened us up to a new world of possibilities, but we're now grappling with the tragic consequences this technology is increasingly imposing on our everyday lives.”

"Cyber bullying is a digital problem, and therefore we need a digital response.

"We are drawing a line in the sand today. We can do all the education and prevention we like but unless social media companies become part of the solution nothing will change.”

Mr Nicholas urged young people and parents to visit reachout.com if they were dealing with cyber bullying right now or keen to learn more about how to minimise risk of it occurring.

Other findings included:

  • 40 per cent of parents are worried about their children's social media and technology use
  • Mums and dads are concerned about the negative impacts of social media and technology use on their children, at 45 per cent and 42 per cent respectively
  • 25 per cent of parents holding concerns about traditional risks to young people around alcohol, drugs and smoking
  • When asked specifically to name their top negatives with social media, parents nominated cyber bullying and harassment as their biggest negative (38%), followed by unproductive/time consuming (37%); upsetting/restricted content (20%); and peer pressure/bad influences (14%)
  • Parents also reported their children overwhelmingly turned to them for help with handling bullying cases (63%), despite over half (56%) not being fully-confident of where to seek help.

5 tips for parents whose child is experiencing cyber bullying

1. Make sure they know how to block, delete or report anyone who is upsetting them online.

2. Stay up to date with the social media they're using and how it works.

3. Talk regularly about online issues and tell them they can come to you no matter what (even if they've broken the rules).

4. Although it's pretty normal now to have online friends, get your teen to think about the type of people they're friends with.

5. Treat cyberbullying as a serious issue so they don't stay quiet if it happens to them or their friends.



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