In the Irish coronavirus lockdown, 66 percent of cyberbullying against children and young people took place on private messaging apps such as WhatsApp, according to a study by Dublin City University’s Anti-Bullying Centre.
As harassment moves from social media platforms to chats, these should be more strongly regulated.
Significantly different from social media
“There are many debates about how legislators should treat this technology because the chats in it are very private in nature. Cyberbullying can look very different on messaging apps than on social media. This creates certain challenges for prevention and intervention,” explains research director Tijana Milosevic.
For the study, the researchers conducted a survey among 504 children and young people between the ages of 10 and 18 and as many parents. Of the children and young people, 28 percent experienced cyberbullying during the lockdown. In two out of three cases, the harassment took place in messaging apps. Half also noticed someone else being bullied.
Almost one in two parents worried
According to 39 percent of the children and young people, mobbing in the lockdown has become stronger. For 42 percent of parents, cyberbullying is a serious cause for concern. 62 percent also fear for the mental well-being of their children. According to Milosevic, children and young people need help especially in the lockdown because the use of digital technology has increased even more during this period.