Parenting: Cyberbullying not as bad as first thought

August 14, 2012 8:24:49 AM PDT
The prevalence of social networking sites, and the frequency of children using them, has led to the problem of cyberbullying.

It's a term created many years ago to describe the act of one child bullying another through the internet, or through other forms of cyber-communication like texting.

Cyberbullying seems much easier to do, and we have seen high-profile cases. Therefore many of us (myself included) have been led to believe it could be a bigger problem than good ol' fashioned bullying on the playground.

Not so, says Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus. He studied 450,000 American children between the ages of three to 12 to see if traditional bullying is still the most frequent kind of bullying.

Of those in his sample, 18 percent said they had been verbally bullied (the more traditional form) while about five percent had been cyberbullied.

Among those doing the bullying, 10 percent said they did it verbally, while three percent said they did it the cyber-way.

Bottom line? Olweus says the main problem is bullying in the traditional form, and that cyberbullying tends to be used as just one of many tactics.

In addition, Olweus suggests we shouldn't spend too much time attacking the cyber-problem, when directing typical proactive measures to the general problem of bullying should suffice.

In his research, Olweus says "it turns out that cyberbullying, when studied in proper context, is a low-prevalence phenomenon, which has not increased over time and has not created many 'new' victims and bullies, that is, children and youth who are not also involved in some form of traditional bullying."

The study can be found at Eurekalert.

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