It is not only the kids that have a lot to learn from adults, but obviously adults have a lot to gain in designing their practices by listening to kids’ views; especially when it comes to issues that kids experience every day, such as bullying and their expectations from us as adults in supporting them.
During the Ulearn11 conference I had the opportunity to meet NetSafe Research Manager Dr John Fenaughty, who talked to me passionately about his research on New Zealand High-school students' activity on cyberspace, the challenges and distress they experience and their actions towards resiliency.
36 groups of students were interviewed and 1,673 were surveyed on their experiences in cyberspace. The findings of this study highlight the need to provide students with adequate support to overcome the challenges they are often facing; key results include:
- Almost 95% of the students access the cyberspace at least 3 times per week, mainly for communication and research.
- 67.5% reported that they experienced a challenge on the cyberspace and for half of these students the challenge was distressing.
- The challenges that students reported include: Harassment, cyberbullying, cyberbullying and harassment, meeting with new people and strangers, unwanted sexual solicitation, sexual content, other inappropriate content, copyright infringement, computer security issues, inappropriate digital footprint, time-management.
- Cyberbullying was the most distressing challenge for the students.
- The most common practice to manage distress was ignoring the challenge; however, this practice never led to resolution.
- Almost 40% of students turned to social support to manage distress.
- Social support, including support from adults was not associated with the resolution of most of the challenges students experienced on the cyberspace.
Whether we are educators or family we all have the responsibility to support kids, no matter in which environment (school, home...) they experience these challenges. We are all part of kids’ environment. They believe in us (or they want to believe in us) as adults, and expect us to be able to help them and make things right. Are we? They often come and talk to us and then what? What do we do to encourage these kids to trust us?
Developing empathy is perhaps where preparation to provide adequate support needs to begin from... listening to kids’ experiences while putting ourselves in their shoes.
Related topics on Educating the Dragon:
- Photo by Ias - initially
- Cyberbullying: Information and advice for young people, parents and teachers by NetSafe
- Cyberbullying articles by NetSafe
- Cyberbullying: by Raising Children Network, Australia
- John Fenaughty (2010). Challenging Risk: NZ High-school Students’ Activity, Challenge, Distress, and Resiliency, within Cyberspace.
- Peter K. Smith, Jess Mahdavi, Manuel Carvalho, Sonja Fisher, Shanette Russell, Neil Tippett (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils.
- Quing Li (2006). Cyberbullying in Schools: A Research of Gender Differences.