Parents rank social media worse than drugs, alcohol, smoking

Problem for parents in the digital age
Problem for parents in the digital age MachineHeadz

AUSTRALIAN parents are now more worried about their children using social media and technology than drugs, alcohol and smoking, frontline youth service ReachOut found.

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said the findings from a survey of nearly 900 Australian parents of children aged 12-to-18 also saw them rank cyberbullying as the biggest negative with social media use.

Along with cyber bullying and harassment as their biggest negative, unproductive/time consuming, upsetting/restricted content and peer pressure/bad influences were concerns held by parents.

"When we are asking parents, schools and governments to do more, we must also ask social media companies to come to the party," Mr Nicholas said.

With 97 per cent of young Australians (18-25) active on social media*, Mr Nicholas said these global corporations had an obligation to do more to protect Australians using their products, just like cars.

"When Australian parents say they are significantly more concerned about their children using social media and technology than drugs, alcohol and smoking (43 per cent compared with 25 per cent respectively), it's not good enough for social media companies to tell us they are doing enough.

"Social media is the car of the 21st century - it's opened us up to a new world of possibilities, but we're now grappling with the tragic consequences this technology is increasingly imposing on our everyday lives."

Mr Nicholas said, like cars, it was often careless actions of others that were so dangerous on social media, whose technology was making it "too easy" for bullies to harass Australians anywhere, anytime.

"Cyberbullying is a digital problem, and therefore we need a digital response."."

Mr Nicholas urged young people and parents to visit if they were dealing with cyberbullying right now or keen to learn more about how to minimise risk of it occurring.

Key Findings

  • More than 40 per cent of parents were worried about their children's social media and technology use.
  • Mums and dads were also equally concerned about the negative impacts of social media and technology use on their children, at 45 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
  • This is compared to the 25 per cent of parents holding concerns about traditional risks to young people around alcohol, drugs and smoking.
  • When asked specifically to name their top negatives with social media, parents nominated cyber bullying and harassment as their biggest negative (38%), followed by unproductive/time consuming (37%); upsetting/restricted content (20%); and peer pressure/bad influences (14%).
  • Parents also reported their children overwhelmingly turned to them for help with handling bullying cases (63%), despite over half (56%) not being fully-confident of where to seek help.

5 Tips for parents whose child is experiencing cyber bullying

1. Make sure they know how to block, delete or report anyone who is upsetting them online.

2. Stay up to date with the social media they're using and how it works.

3. Talk regularly about online issues and tell them they can come to you no matter what (even if they've broken the rules).

4. Although it's pretty normal now to have online friends, get your teen to think about the type of people they're friends with.

5. Treat cyberbullying as a serious issue so they don't stay quiet if it happens to them or their friends.

Topics:  cyber bullying editors picks northern rivers education social media technology

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Growing confidence in youth workers

Dovetail psychologist Cassie Davis will be facilitating 'young people and drugs' workshops for youth and social workers in the South Burnett.

Our youth workers will receive practical training.

Should you really be going to emergency?

The Kingaroy Hospital emergency room.

Government asks people to think before going to emergency.

South Burnett the ideal place to 'get a foot in the door'

FIRST HOME BUYERS: Phil and Rebecca Cooke.

"It's an affordable way to buy your first or second house.”

Local Partners