Research finds Australian parents are more concerned about their children's use of social media than drugs and alcohol

CONCERNED: According to research conducted by ReachOut, Australian parents see social media and technology as more of a threat than smoking, drugs and alcohol. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK
CONCERNED: According to research conducted by ReachOut, Australian parents see social media and technology as more of a threat than smoking, drugs and alcohol. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

According to research conducted by ReachOut, Australian parents are more concerned about their children’s use of social media and technology than smoking, drugs and alcohol.

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said within the latest survey of parents of children aged 18-25, the threat of cyber bullying was specified as the biggest negative associated with the use of social media.

“This is the issue of our time. When we are asking, parents, schools and governments to do more, we must also ask social media companies to come to the party,” Mr Nicholas said.

“When Australian parents say they are significantly more concerned about their children using social media and technology than drugs, alcohol and smoking (43 per cent compared with 25 per cent respectively), it’s not good enough for social media companies to tell us they are doing enough.

“Social media is the car of the 21st century – it’s opened us up to a new world of possibilities, but we’re now grappling with the tragic consequences this technology is increasingly imposing on our everyday lives.”

ReachOut is an Australian online mental health organisation which provides practical support, tools and tips for young people and their parents.

Mr Nicholas said it was ‘too easy’ for cyber bullying to occur online and has called on social media companies to collaborate with services such as ReachOut to create a proactive, industry-led solution.

He compared the current risks of social media to the requirement of car manufacturers who installed safety features to minimise risk to users and ‘other innocent parties’.

“Cyber bullying is a digital problem, and therefore we need a digital response. We are drawing a line in the sand today. We can do all the education and prevention we like but unless social media companies become part of the solution nothing will change,” he said.

Tips to prevent cyber bullying:

  • Ensure your children know how to block, delete, or report anyone who is causing problems online.
  • Stay up to date with the forms of social media your children are using and understand how it functions.
  • Discuss common online issues and convey the message to your children that they’re able to come to you for help, regardless of if they have ‘broken the rules’.
  • Ensure your children understand the types of people they are friends with online.
  • Treat cyber bullying as a genuine issue so your children know how to recognise and respond to any incidents that happen to them or their friends.