Autumn witnesses 'perfect storm' for cyberbullying

More than half of UK parents are 'concerned about' issue

Updated: 
Serious teenager online late at night

New research conducted by Internet Matters has found 62% of parents are 'concerned' about cyberbullying – making it just as much of a worry as online grooming and sexting.

A reflection of the changing face of bullying in the digital age these startling statistics come at a peak time of the year for the issue. Eight times as many Google searches for 'cyberbullying' when children are back at school compared to July and August

Figures peak specifically in October, with more than double the amount of searches for the term 'cyberbullying' compared to an average month.*

Despite the widespread concern about the topic, 32% said they had yet to talk to their children about it.

Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, an ambassador for the Internet Matters campaign, says that victims of cyberbullying can find it hard to open up to their parents. "Bullying is not confined to the school playground any more. The digital age means it can follow you home and can be just as hurtful as physical bullying.

"Sometimes children don't want to talk about what is happening to them online. They may feel helpless or worry their parents will take away their phones or ban them from using tech.

"It's vital that parents learn how to pick up the signs, especially at this time of the year when there is a rise in the number of people seeking information about the issue."

Internet Matters has worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to bring together comprehensive new information, guidance and resources for parents on its website, available at https://www.internetmatters.org/issues/cyberbullying/.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: "This time of the year can create a perfect storm for cyberbullying. Many children may be getting their first smartphone as they start at a new school and find a wider network of friends online.

"Connecting with friends on social media and online can be liberating and empowering for children, which makes cyberbullying all the more impactful."

* Google metrics data 2015 showing total number of UK searches in English of 'cyberbullying' in 2015.
Total number of searches for 'cyberbullying' in July and August combined: 17,500.
Total number of searches for 'cyberbullying' in September and October combined: 134,500.
Total number of searches for 'cyberbullying' in October: 74,000
Total monthly average: 33,100