Various studies have put a magnifying glass on what this negative phenomenon can generate in the development of children. The most worrying thing is to recognize the number of minors who are affected by this bad practice.
The problem is not minor and the implications for the future are many. It is enough to recognize the most recent data provided by Unicef.
According to this organization, in Latin America it is estimated that seven out of 10 children suffer from cyberbullying, which has had an impact on their natural development.
Cyberbullying: What to do in the face of the problem?
With 71 percent of young people and children who believe that online bullying occurs mainly on social networks, one in five who suffered from this problem decided to stop attending school.
Added to this are other classes of phenomena that are equally or more damaging. For example, UNICEF indicates that 42 percent of children in the region have received erotic/sexual content, 52 percent have accepted friendship invitations from strangers, and 21 percent have agreed to meet these people they have met online. line.
These numbers have put on the table issues to improve the safety of all, but especially of the youngest users, when surfing the net, putting cyberbullying as one of the first and main lines on which to work.
Recognizing this environment, from Unocero, we spoke with Javier Rincón, cybersecurity expert and Country Manager for Mexico at Avast, who gave us some crucial points to protect children from problems as serious as cyberbullying:
Unocero: Is digital life and internet access important in the general development of children today? Why?
“The world today is very different compared to the world most of us adults grew up in. Children learn to use a mouse and touch screen before they can read or write.
The Internet, especially during the pandemic, has become an integral part of our lives, and children are no exception. The internet not only plays an important role at the entertainment level, but also in education, the discovery of the world, the formation of ties. Today we cannot extract the online universe from the physical one, both are so closely linked that for our children they form one.
It is true that the online world is vast and presents threats and insecurities that challenge even adults, but the opportunities for development and learning that it allows are many. The best thing is to give children tools and get involved in the child’s online world, in the same way that adults get involved in offline life. Have conversations about who their friends are, who they talk to, what activities they do when they are online and create spaces for children to feel comfortable to communicate any problem or doubt they are facing.
Unocero: Cyberbullying is a tangible risk for children in the digital field. Are there technological or digital solutions such as apps to help parents prevent and combat this problem?
“Unfortunately, as long as there are mean people, it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to stop cyberbullying entirely. It can also be difficult to stop the hostility created by cyberbullies (posts, websites, or videos that attack victims), as it can take a long and difficult process for platform administrators to remove that content. And at that point, copies have often already been made and distributed, meaning it’s almost impossible to delete the content forever.
However, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent cyberbullying and even stop it in its tracks.
Block harmful or hateful accounts: One way to handle cyberbullying is to unfriend and block the bully. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or an online game, there should always be an option to block another user. This prevents the harasser from sending messages, posting on the victim’s profile, tagging the victim in posts, or contacting them in any way.
Make your social media accounts private: If a stalker can’t find your account, it will be much harder for them to get to you. Users should only connect on social media with people they trust. Also, it is better from a data privacy point of view to have our accounts blocked.
Do not send photos or videos: We should avoid sending photos or videos of ourselves, our home, or anything private to people we meet online. These images could be used against us or to find more information about us. This is especially true of explicit photos or videos, as they could be used for harassment or blackmail.
Report stalkers: All online platforms should have the option to report inappropriate or derogatory content. Moderators should be able to remove content and even block repeat offenders from using the platform.
Protect your passwords: Another way to prevent cyberbullying is to protect our devices and passwords. Users should set a password on their phone, tablet, and computer so that no one can enter and use their devices without their consent. They should also make sure they have strong and unique passwords for each of their online accounts. Weak passwords could allow cyberbullies to break in and use accounts for fraping, dissing, or other forms of harassment. If it seems difficult to remember complicated passwords for each separate account, a password manager can be used.
Protect your devices with cybersecurity software: The line between cyber bullying and hacking can be a fine one. If our devices are ever compromised or a stalker tries to trick us into stealing our data, strong antivirus software will make sure personal information isn’t compromised.”
Unocero: What platforms, apps and social networks are the most recurrent to exercise this type of violence against minors?
“The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:
Social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok
Texting and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
Instant messaging, direct messaging and online chat over the Internet
Online forums and chat rooms, like Reddit
Unocero: By age and shared traits, what is the group of the children’s community most vulnerable to cyberbullying?
“Globally, a 2019 US study looked at the percentage of parents whose children have been bullied by age: 6-10 years: 47.7%, 11-13 years: 56.4%, 14 at 18 years: 59.9%, 19 years and over: 54.3%.
In Mexico, according to data from UNICEF, 50% of girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 11 are Internet or computer users, and in the case of adolescents between 12 and 17 years old, between 80% and 94% use the internet or a computer. Although the use of the Internet opens up a world of possibilities for entertainment, communication and education, it can also present a risk for children and adolescents, since according to national surveys, 25% of adolescents between 12 and 17 years old have experienced some form of cyberbullying in Mexico.