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Parents ‘feel powerless’ as they’re locked out of their children’s devices

Parents ‘feel powerless’ as they’re locked out of their children’s devices
Adults believe their offspring will come to them if they’re bullied – but survey suggests otherwise

Millions of parents feel powerless to protect their kids online despite 48 per cent knowing their child has at some point experienced cyber bullying, according to a poll.

A survey of 1,400 parents of children aged between six and 18 found 57 per cent knew little about how to keep their offspring safe, with 33 per cent of these admitting they were not tech-savvy.

Nearly half, or 47 per cent, said they had little access to what their child is doing online due to locked phones and console passwords.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent said they found it hard to keep up with all the online channels their child can use.

The research, commissioned by The Diana Award, has been released after Downing Street hosting a closed reception with charity ambassadors Rio Ferdinand, UK youth mental health ambassador for the Department of Education Dr Alex George, and anti-bullying young ambassadors trained by the charity.

The meeting with Number 10 came as the Online Safety Bill made its way through parliament.

According to the research, 46 per cent of parents feared their child knew more about technology than the older members of the house and could cover up any problems.

Of the children polled, 58 per cent said they would not tell their parents if someone tried to bully them online. And 45 per cent were unsure that their parents would be able to help them anyway.

The Diana Award’s spokesperson, Alex Holmes, said: “The online element of modern life can make bullying behaviour far more complex.

“When many of today’s parents were young, bullying behaviour – while awful – was something that happened outside or at school.

“Now, the safe space that was home is also increasingly under threat in today’s always-connected world, especially where lockdowns and school closures have encouraged bullying behaviour to seep more and more into life online.”

Pollsters also found 54 per cent of parents realised they may be part of the problem if they shared online something which could be construed as bullying or offensive, and their children saw it.

And of these, six in 10 worried their child might repeat something they had written or shared online.

However, 67 per cent of parents were confident their children would approach them if they were being cyber-bullied. That is despite 32 per cent of children saying they would likely contact a website’s moderator or someone in charge of a game if they were exposed to online trolls.

One-fifth said they would try and work out a way to “get back at their aggressor and 23 per cent said they would ignore them.

The survey found bullying in real life was more prevalent than in the digital space, as 31 per cent of the young people polled had had an issue with someone in the real world.

This compared to 17 per cent who had experienced cyber-bullying only, while 19 per cent have experienced both.

Youngsters also claimed the most likely place they would see bullying is in the classroom by other pupils (31 per cent) – and 21 per cent said they had seen intimidation tactics used at school by teachers themselves.

And 26 per cent had witnessed unkind behaviour on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Discord.

To date, more than 40,000 young people have been trained as anti-bullying ambassadors in nearly 5,000 schools throughout the UK and Ireland by The Diana Award, which aims to tackle bullying and empower young people to make a change.

The spokesperson added: “Our results show that dealing with bullying behaviour can be overwhelming for parents, but it’s important for them to understand their role in their child’s safety without letting things get brushed under the carpet.

“We encourage communication to not just rely on the child being open but flow both ways, with honest dialogue about acceptable forms of communication, both in real life and online.

“If you don’t know where to start, schools, parents and children can sign up to our Don’t Face it Alone campaign to get free anti-bullying resources, help and support, for all types of bullying behaviour. We’re here to help stamp it out”.