Does your fourth grader son or daughter own a cell phone? Beware, he or she may be particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, researchers have warned. The findings showed that children who owned cell phones were significantly more likely to report being a victim of cyberbullying, especially in grades three and four. The increased risk could be tied to increased opportunity and vulnerability. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdownsAlso Read - No, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram will not stop working in India (Not right now)
Continuous access to social media, and texting increases online interactions, provides more opportunities to engage both positively and negatively with peers, and increases the chance of an impulsive response to peers’ postings and messages, the researchers said. “Parents often cite the benefits of giving their child a cell phone, but our research suggests that giving young children these devices may have unforeseen risks as well,” said Elizabeth K. Englander, Professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. Also Read - How is the Smartphone Industry Trend in 2021?
For the study, the team collected survey data on 4,584 students in grades three, four and five. Across all three grades, 49.6 percent of students reported owning a cell phone. Overall, 9.5 percent of children reported being a victim of cyberbullying. Researchers also noted that the older the student, the more likely they were to own a cell phone 59.8 percent of fifth graders, 50.6 percent of fourth graders, and 39.5 percent of third graders. RELATED: School going kids most vulnerable to online bullying in India: Survey
The results, to be presented at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Chicago on Monday, are a reminder for parents to consider the risks as well as the benefits when deciding whether to provide their elementary school-aged child with a cell phone. “At the very least, parents can engage in discussions and education with their child about the responsibilities inherent in owning a mobile device, and the general rules for communicating in the social sphere,” Englander said. ALSO READ: Cyberbullying, revenge porn, sextortion growing concern among Indians: Microsoft study