A new survey has found that one fifth of secondary students have taken part in online bullying, with teenage boys being more likely to have done so than girls.
The survey, released in conjunction with Safer Internet Day, also discovered three in ten secondary students have witnessed something online that has either concerned, upset or frightened them.
Conducted by Tablets for Schools, the survey asked 7,443 students about their average Internet activity, finding that around 25% of participants did not tell anyone if they had a negative experience online, reports Josie Gurney-Read for The Telegraph.
In addition, the survey found that about half of secondary students and over one-fourth of primary school students in the UK talk to strangers online through social media sites, yet only 56% of parents make use of Internet filters which would allow them to moderate content.
A separate report was also released at the same time by Action for Children. Research for their study found that 60% of students who admitted to online bullying said they did so in order to fit in with a social group, and 43% said they did so in order to prevent themselves from being bullied online.
Other reasons for online bullying included peer pressure and feeling unhappy.
Deanna Neilson, head of child protection at Action for Children said: “It’s shocking that online bullying is so prevalent, but we must not lose sight of the fact that many of these children bully others because of something going wrong in their own lives….It’s important for parents to ask children about the day they’ve had online, just as they ask about the day they’ve had at school – whether your child is being bullied or bullying others, the problem, and any potentially more severe issues surrounding it, must be addressed.”
An additional report had been published last November by the Commons health select committee, which discovered mental health services were on the rise among children by about one-quarter in one year, due to pressures stemming from social media.
Childline was featured in the report, stating that the number of children receiving counseling for online bullying had risen by 87% in just one year.
Edward Timpson, children and families minister, said today: “Thousands fewer pupils are being bullied than a decade ago thanks to the hard work of teachers, parents and charities. But no child should have to face being insulted or abused online and Safer Internet Day is a vial initiative in ensuring young people learn to use the internet appropriately.