India has 3rd highest online bullying rate [Survey]
A recent survey by Microsoft noted that cyber-bullying was on the rise among Indian children and teenagers in the age bracket of 8 to 17. While the term cyber bullying may not be a part of an Indian youth’s vocabulary yet, a significant 53% of Indian children said that they had faced negative experiences online.
29% of respondents in the 8-17 age group said that they have been made fun off, or teased online. 25% have been called names while 22% have been at the receiving end of unfriendly treatment online. In total, 53% of Indian respondents said that they had been bullied online as compared to a worldwide average of 37%.
This meant that India’s online bullying rate was ranked third highest in the world. It also emerged that a total of 77% of Indian respondents said that they had been bullied either online or offline. In other words, nearly 8 out of 10 Indian respondents have been bullied via either mode. However only 54% of children and teens said that they had been bullied offline, as compared to a worldwide average of 72%.
Further analytics from the survey revealed that the chances of being bullied online were more for children in the age group of 8-12 (58%) as compared to 13-17 (48%). This could very well be an eye opener because popular social networking websites often have in place age limits for membership. For example, Facebook does not allow anyone younger than 13 to sign up. However there are no formal verification procedures to ensure the same.
The survey also noted that unlike offline bullying where girls were more likely to be bullied, the online playground seems to be free for all as both genders are equally likely to face cyber bullying. The Indian youth also seem to be aware young netizens as 8 out of 10 boys and nearly the same number of girls acknowledge cyber bullying.
So what are the parents doing to protect their children from negative experiences online?
Surprisingly and positively, 45% of the parents said that they have taught their children online manners. 4 out of 10 parents monitor their children’s online activity. While Indian parents seem to acknowledge that there are certain risks that children face online, only 3 out of 10 actually ask their kids if they have been cyber bullied.
And what are the schools doing about it?
Not much, the survey suggests. Of all the schools that the respondents attend, only 38% have formal policies that address this issue. Additionally, only 43% of schools have in the past, or currently provide education about online bullying to their students.
In India, the IT Act 2000 addresses issues pertaining to obscenity, privacy and confidentiality amongst others. However cyber bullying is yet to find its way into the books of law in a pure form.
For India, Cyberbullying is a whole new battleground. Just over a decade back, it would have been unheard of, to find a 13 year old girl crying because some of her friends made fun of her Facebook profile. A 10 year old boy would not have been found sad just because someone made fun of him in an email which was copied it to all his classmates.
Cyberbullying is quite different from offline bullying. A child being bullied on the school playground can easily walk away from the situation. That may not necessarily be possible on the internet. A Facebook comment making fun of a teenage girl cannot be deleted unless it is on her own wall.
It is apparent that the online playground is not free of risks. But then again, at least punches can’t be thrown!