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Teachers’ newest online worry: ‘cyberbaiting’


A new report indicates that the more time children spend online, the more negative situations they are likely to encounter.

A new report sheds light on an emerging trend known as “cyberbaiting,” a phenomenon where students taunt their teachers to the point of outburst, then capture the teachers’ reactions via cell phone videos and post those videos online for all to see.

Cyberbaiting is the latest example of using social networking for bad behavior, and one in five teachers across the globe has personally experienced cyberbaiting or knows another teacher who has, according to the Norton Online Family Report, a global survey of more than 19,000 students, parents, and teachers in 24 countries.

Perhaps due to the emergence of cyberbaiting, 67 percent of teachers across the world say being friends with students on social networks exposes them to risks. Still, 34 percent of global teachers continue to “friend” their students.

In the United States, 15 percent of teachers are friends with students on social networking sites, 90 percent of teachers think that being friends with students exposes them to risks, and 11 percent of teachers know a fellow teacher who has experienced cyberbaiting.

Only 51 percent of teachers say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media, according to the Norton survey.

Eighty-two percent of U.S. teachers think their school should be doing more to educate students about online safety–on par with 80 percent of global teachers. Sixty-five percent of U.S. parents believe schools should do more to educate kids about online safety, compared with 70 percent of global parents. Twenty-six percent of U.S. students think they receive too little online safety education at school.

Fifty-seven percent of teachers worldwide think students spend the right amount of time online at school, and 27 percent think students do not spend enough time online at school.

Globally, 24 percent of teachers said their school has no formal internet safety policy, and 12 percent of teachers do not know if their school has a formal internet safety curriculum.

Negative online experiences

Overall, almost 62 percent of kids across the world said that they have had a negative experience while online. Nearly 4 in 10–39 percent–have had a serious negative experience online, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied, or becoming the victim of cybercrime.

The more time children spend online, the more negative situations they are likely to encounter. Eighty-eight percent of children who spend 49 or more hours a week online have had a negative online experience, 76 percent of children who spend 25-48 hours online have reported a negative online experience, and 60 percent of children who spend 1-24 hours a week online reported a negative online experience.

Forty-seven percent of parents worldwide fear their kids will give out too much personal information to strangers, 44 percent fear their children are interacting with inappropriate people, and 44 percent worry their kids will be exposed to indecent information online.

Overall, 63 percent of parents talk to their kids about online safety, 34 percent have checked their child’s online use or browser history without the child’s knowledge, and 25 percent have secretly checked their child’s social networking site.

The survey was conducted in 24 countries, including 14 tracking countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan,  New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States; 10 new countries: Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Poland, Switzerland, and UAE.

In the tracking countries, there has been a small but encouraging decline in the number of children experiencing a negative online situation. In 2010, 62 percent of children had a negative online experience, but that dropped to 58 percent in 2011.

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