However, Ginger Gorman, a journalist and writer, argues that with social media already enmeshed into the lives of our children, the answer lies in education and resilience. Gorman, who has been viciously trolled online herself, says that banning apps is a Band-Aid solution for a “complex wound”. Banned apps will simply reappear within days, or even hours, under new names and will have no effect on bullies and trolls who will switch to the new apps or find other outlets for their hateful messages. In addition, argues Gorman: The notion of banning kids from social media is akin to stopping kids going to the shopping mall in case they get assaulted. It’s ludicrous and amounts to a type of victim blaming that punishes the cyberhate target and not the perpetrator.
Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg recently told the ABC that up to 70% of primary-school aged children are on social media and argued than children aged under 12 should not be on social media at all, but Gorman asks, “aren’t we better off teaching our kids good digital citizenship and resilience in the face of bullying? Aren’t we better off helping them use social media in limited bouts and under supervision?”
Gorman suggests that we do not engage with bullies and trolls who are, after all, simply seeking to hurt their victims and provoke a wounded response. Rather, she argues, we should ignore their vile posts, stand strong and use resources like those provided by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and Kids Helpline. It is also important, Gorman says, not to lose sight of the positive sides of social media for young people in connecting with friends and family. It is crucial for children, including those who are vulnerable or isolated, to be able to access online support networks and resources via social media.
Echoing this advice, Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, says that parents and the wider community need to “help our young people build the resilience, courage and strength to cope with what they may experience online.” Parents are urged to help their children navigate their way safely in the online world, just as they do for the real world.
A survey of 2,360 Australian parents conducted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in 2016 found that 90% believe their child benefits from being online, including for school work (73%), finding information (63%), entertainment (50%), technology proficiency (47%), connecting with friends and family (30%), problem-solving skills (20%) and creativity (18%). However, 60% of parents also believe their child faces risks online, most commonly accessing inappropriate content (60%), contact with strangers (50%) and excessive use (42%), but also reduced fitness (36%), sharing personal information (35%), cyberbullying (29%), feeling isolated (22%) and negative self-image (20%).
Overall, 66% of parents taking part in the survey were confident in their ability to protect their child online, but 38% said that would like more information about online safety principally advice about how to deal with negative online incidents, online stranger danger, and images going viral. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides a wide variety of online resources for parents including iParent (providing information on how to make devices and connections safe and secure); advice on dealing with cyberbullying; and portals to report serious cyberbullying, offensive and illegal content, and image-based abuse (such as the unwanted sharing or
posting of images of children and young people).
It is also important to note that serious online harassment and bullying can constitute an offence under Australia’s Criminal Code Act 1995, attracting a maximum penalty of three years’ prison or a fine of more than $30,000. Serious cyberbullying intended to make the victim feel fearful, harassed or otherwise concerned for their safety can be reported to ACORN (the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network), which may refer the matter on to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
All staff at St Aidan’s (teaching, support, coaching, STAR and Music tutoring) have undertaken annual student protection, with this year’s focus on cyberbullying. St Aidan’s supports the advice provided below.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner advises parents of cyberbullied children to:
• Collect evidence – take screenshots of the material and copy URLs
• Report cyberbullying material to the relevant social media service/s (see www.esafety.gov.au/safetycentres)
If the content is not removed within 48 hours:
• Block the person
• Report the cyberbullying at www.esafety.gov.au/reportcyberbullying
Kids Helpline also provides online advice for bullying victims, telling them not to respond to the bully, but to block them, take screenshots and report the post or image. They should also seek help from a parent, trusted adult or, if they feel in danger, the police. Kids Helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing a free and confidential online and telephone counselling service to all children and young people aged 5 to 25.
Office of the eSafety Commissioner: 1800 880 176 | https://www.esafety.gov.au/
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 | https://kidshelpline.com.au/
Lifeline: 13 11 14 | https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Devic, A. (2018, January 20). Cyberbullying in Australia: How parents can stop cyberbullies from thriving online. Herald Sun. Retrieved from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/
Gorman, G. (2016, November 1). There is nothing virtual about online trolling. TEDx Canberra. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaGIyyYW5tQ
Gorman, G. (2018, January 15). Banning social media wouldn’t have saved Dolly. News.com.au. Retrieved from: http://www.news.com.au/
Cyberbullying. (2018). Kids Helpline. Retrieved from: https://kidshelpline.com.au/teens/issues/cyberbullying
New ABS figures: Youth suicide. (2016, September 29). headspace. Retrieved from: https://headspace.org.au/news/new-abs-figures-youth-suicide/
Cyberbullying. (2018). ACORN – Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network. Retrieved from: https://www.acorn.gov.au/learn-about-cybercrime/cyber-bullying
Report cyberbullying. (2018). Office of the eSafety Commissioner. Retrieved from: https://www.esafety.gov.au/reportcyberbullying
• Phoebe McAuliffe (Year 12) on her successful win in the Lions Youth of the Year competition at the club finals for the Oxley Sherwood Lions Club. Phoebe was overall winner, and also took out the award for Best Public Speaker. To achieve this win, Phoebe was interviewed by a panel of judges from the Oxley-Sherwood Lions Club last Sunday. On Tuesday evening, Phoebe presented an engaging five minute persuasive speech and responded to impromptu questions on current social issues. Good luck Phoebe as you go on to represent St Aidan’s at the Zone Finals on the 3rd March.
• Ruby Turner (Dux of 2017) who was awarded a Distinguished Academic Achievers Award by the QCAA on the weekend.
• Gabrielle Preston, Alexandra Spalding and Anouk Johnson (Year 10) who are one of only 25 teams selected world-wide as finalists in the international Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge. These girls, together with team Speechability, will head over to NASA in April to compete in the world competition.
• Our two art technicians who both have solo exhibitions this month. Miss Dana Lawrie’s exhibition Grasp the Nettle opens at Metro Arts in Brisbane this Wednesday and Miss Sarah Poulgrain’s exhibition Conversation in Two Parts is currently on at Firstdraft gallery in Sydney.
• Year 4 Students and Ms McGuire, Ms Cairns, Ms Swan and Ms Chapman for their energy and enthusiasm on Year 4 camp last week.