Cyber-bullying affecting kids

Posted by: admin on: February 16, 2012

With children as young as 8 & 9 surfing the net, vulnerability to net bullies is causing  depression among  children.


Goregaon homemaker Swapna Mhatre became worried after her 11-year-old son began showing signs of depression. He lost interest in studies, would refuse
to go to school and would not talk to anyone.

Swapna consulted a child psychiatrist who managed to find out the reason for the change in the child’s behaviour. Mitesh was a victim of cyber-bullying.

His school friends knew the password to his account on a social networking site and they would post malicious contents on his page.
Mitesh is not alone.

“An increasing number of children — even as young as eight years old — are hooked on to Facebook and other social networking sites. Parents need to be very cautious because when children are exposed to the cyber world, they can be bullied or even harassed,” warned Dr Rajiv Anand, child psychiatrist

According to a survey conducted by eScan, an antivirus security solution firm, 80% to 85% of students face cyber-bullying in India of which 30% are from Mumbai.

Hardly 50% to 55% of the children were aware of the minimum age eligibility to join social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The survey was conducted in the four metros — Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai — in November. Questionnaires were sent to 5,000 parents who had children between 10 and 15.

“The objective of the survey was to know whether cyber-bullying in India is on a rise and is it the main cause for depression among children,” said Govind Rammurthy, managing director and CEO, eScan.

“Cyber-bullying was found to be more prevalent among children. Though most parents claimed to control their child’s computer use, a few parents lacked awareness about internet security,” he added.

The survey found that 50%-60% of the children allowed others to use their profile IDs, passwords, email IDs and 60%-65% of them were unaware of online security tips. According to psychiatrists, cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation and in extreme cases suicide.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recently issued new guidelines urging doctors to advise parents to get involved in their child’s use of internet and other social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Today, children as young as seven to eight years of age are hooked on to the internet. They not just play online games, but also chat online on social networking sites,” said Dr Seema Hingorani, a senior psychiatrist.



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