A new French poll reveals that 20 percent of young people aged between eight and 18 have been a victim of cyber harassment - 51 percent of them are young girls. This comes as the education minister urged teachers to be vigilant as the new school year gets under way.
The study, carried out by Audirep for the Caisse d'Épargne and e-Enfance association found that 63 percent of children between 8 and 18 years of age included in the poll* were already subscribers to various social media platforms such as Snapchat, Youtube and Instagram.
20 percent said they had been exposed to cyber harassment, 51 percent of them young girls of 13 years-old on average.
When broken down into the reasons behind the bullying, 45 percent said it was due to jealousy or vengeance, 38 percent said it was over differences relating to behaviour or personal taste, while 36 percent said it was with regards to physical appearance or style.
The survey found that the average age for children to receive mobile phones was 10, and two out of five children in primary school said they played video games online.
Parents unaware of risks
75 percent of parents who accompanied their children for the poll said they thought their children were at risk but were not sure, while 83 percent said they had no idea what content their children were looking at online.
Eight out of ten parents admitted they needed more support to understand and deal with the risks of online harassment and approved of putting in place psychological help for victims. Only 34 percent admitted they were aware of the risks.
One out of three children said they had been shocked by content they came across online, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, France's education minister last month urged teachers to be vigilant after a bizarre cyber-harassment campaign erupted among school students targeting those born in 2010.
The viral hashtag #anti2010 has alarmed parents because it involves 10- and 11-year-olds in sixth grade -- which marks the all-important entry into secondary school.
The origins of the insults and online threats are unclear, but appear to have emerged on the TikTok video sharing platform that is hugely popular with young people, possibly in response to video games.
"Even if a large number of children do not use the platforms, for those who spend time there it is obvious that their mental and psychological health is in real danger," the main federation of school parents, (FCPE) said.
*The Audirep poll was conducted with 1 204 parent/child couples, between 15 April and 2 May 2021.