Thomas Paul, 7, celebrates after winning an iPad in the GLNG Ecofest competition.
Thomas Paul, 7, celebrates after winning an iPad in the GLNG Ecofest competition. Contributed

Cyber bullying a big danger with 53% of teens exposed

Paul family encouraged children to be cyber-safe from early age: son wins iPad

GENERATION Z are a tech-savvy bunch born after 1994, who have never experienced life without technology.

A study by McAfee and TNS has determined the gap between what kids and parents believe is appropriate behaviour online.

It found the average age of opening a social network account was 13.

Success For Kids educational and developmental psychologist Kimberley Cunial said we needed to consider the associated dangers within technology and social media sites.

She said cyber bullying was more dangerous than face to face harassment.

The study showed 25% of tweens, 8-12-year-olds, had seen nasty comments online and 53% of teens were exposed to cyber bullying.

"The aggressor cannot see the person they are hurting and so cannot have the opportunity to feel compassion or empathy," Ms Cunial said.

The effects are long-lasting because it is difficult to remove the content from websites.

"Through middle childhood and adolescence, social comparisons and peer friendships become highly influential as they strive to define their own sense of self or identity," Ms Cunial said.

This can encourage the need for online "friends".

One in five tweens said they had chatted to someone online that they did not know previously.

But she said establishing key restrictions and teaching how to stay safe over the net at a young age was essential.

"With children, you have the advantage that they still greatly value their parents' input and approval. Parents need to take advantage of this and to start as early as possible at teaching safe cyber skills."

Kids are kept safe in cyber space

JANET and Jeff Paul have encouraged their children to be cyber-safe from an early age.

Their son Thomas, 7, last week won an iPad in a GLNG competition at Ecofest, in which children had to explain how they were environmentally friendly.

Thomas said he was "bouncing off the walls" when he found out he was the lucky winner - and his parents weren't worried about extra screen time.

Jeff said they restricted how their children, Thomas, Skye, 7, and Jack, 9, used the internet.

"We have a program that restricts the children from searching for things with key words you don't want them to see," Jeff said.

"The computers are in an open space in the house so we can keep an eye on them in that way too."

The children are not allowed to use computers after dinner.