About 50% of Indian youth cyberbullied via Facebook, WhatsApp

Indian teens are at risk of cyber bullying as a new survey released by McAfee says half of the youth in India have had some experience with cyber bullying or witnessed others being cyber-bullied.

Around 36 percent of the youth surveyed by McAfee said they have been victims of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying also translates into some offline behavior like anger and embarrassment.

The study, which examines the online behavior and social networking habits of Indian teens and tweens, found that 52 percent of India’s youth even access their social media accounts while at school, with tweens (57 percent) being more connected during school hours than teens (47 percent).

Online risks are much higher in cities like Delhi where the youth is constantly connected, accessing networking sites daily. Facebook (90 percent) tops as a favorite, followed by WhatsApp (81 percent), YouTube (61 percent), Twitter (50 percent) and Skype (48 percent).

cyber bullying
Image source:sociallyactive.com

Another risk factor for tweens to get into cyber bullying is their age. Even though the minimum age to register to on social networking sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tinder, Tumblr, and Vine is 13, 10-12 year olds report higher daily access to than their teen counterparts, the report said.

While a majority (80 percent) of Indian youth is aware that their online activity can affect their identity, 92 percent have done or posted something risky online. Without thinking of the consequences, 70 percent have posted their contact details like email, phone and home address.

There is a tendency among the youth to trust unknown people in the virtual world, in spite of being aware that it is risky. More than half (53 percent) have met someone in person that they first met online. 63 percent of youth do not turn off their location or GPS services across apps, leaving their locations visible to strangers.

Another concern facing teen is the peer pressure to portray an untrue image of themselves. A worrisome 64 percent even admit to trying  to reinvent their online personas making themselves appear older, creating fake profiles or posting photos that are not their own. Moreover, 46 percent say they would put themselves in danger to see more engagement/ activity on their posts.

Parents’ role in educating Indian youth about online security is questioned in the survey. Only 46 percent of the youth surveyed say their parents have had a conversation with them about online safety. Others say their parents simply don’t care (52 percent).

The online study reaffirms the role parents can play in ensuring the security of their wards online.

Melanie Duca, APAC Consumer Marketing Director, McAfee, part of Intel Security says, “Teens and tweens are very comfortable operating in the online world, yet the risks have never been greater. Young people are often the pioneers for new technologies so they need to understand the consequences of their online behaviour and how they can maintain their social engagement.”

Watch the video of Melanie Duca discussing cyber bullying threats on Indian youth

“Internet-enabled devices collect information about online behaviour, track location and links to social media accounts which are vulnerable to threats that can disrupt devices and extract personal data leading to cyberbullying and identity theft,” said Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of Engineering- Consumer and Mobile, McAfee India Centre, McAfee, part of Intel Security.

“Education is key to empowering both parents and children with the tools to tackle these risks,” Krishnapur added.

Watch the video in which Krishnapur  talks about how Indian youth finds more recognition on social media.

McAfee has launched Intel Education’s Cyber Wellness Curriculum designed to address these concerns.

McAfee also suggest the following to parents to safeguard their children from cyber bullying:

  1. Connect with your kids. Casually talk to them about the risks of all online connections and make sure the communication lines are open.
  2. Gain access. Have passwords for your children’s social media accounts and passcodes to their children’s devices to have full access at any given moment.
  3. Learn their technology. Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use. You want to know more about their devices than they do.
  4. Get social. Stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks. You don’t have to create an account but it is important to understand how they work and if your kids are on them.
  5. Reputation management. Make sure your kids are aware anything they post online does not have an expiration date.

Among the social networking platforms, Facebook is by far the most popular site used (93 percent), followed by YouTube (87 percent) and WhatsApp (79 percent).

The survey also reveals that 70 percent of online youth in India spend more than 5 hours on the internet in a normal week. Internet access is still predominantly desktop based (41 percent); however, 36 percent use laptops and 27 percent use smartphones.

Social media is viewed as a platform for the youth to get social acceptance. Two thirds (66 percent) of youth in India say they feel more accepted on social media than they do in real life. 72 percent feel important or popular when they receive a lot of “likes” on the photos posted in their profiles.

More than half (53 percent) of youth have been involved in an argument because of something posted on social media, 46 percent got into trouble at home or school as a result of being on a social network site. Meanwhile 34 percent of youth stated they regretted posting something online.

Although 70 percent of youth believe their parents trust them to do what is right online, 64 percent of young people in India still manage to hide their online behaviors from their parents and 61 percent think their parents can’t keep up with them when it comes to technology. 62 percent would still change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching.

Youth share a variety of fears regarding risks they face online, including: fear their privacy will be compromised (26 percent) and fear of being hacked (23 percent).  Notably, these fears are greater than the fear of being cyberbullied (18 percent) or unpopular (12 percent).

Rajani Baburajan



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