Social media platforms and online games should be given a star safety rating system, advocates say, as the rates of cyber-bullying among teenagers have almost doubled.
Youth advocacy group ReachOut has called for the ACCC or the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to rate and monitor online services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, You-Tube and even games like Fortnite in an attempt to reduce the abuse experienced by children.
A national ReachOut survey of 1000 people aged 14-25 showed that despite increased awareness, particularly following the suicide death of 14-year-old Dolly Everett, the rates of cyber-bullying among youth are continuing to skyrocket.
In 2016 the survey found 25 per cent of 14 to 25-year-olds experienced bullying online. This had jumped to 38 per cent in 2017.
For 14 to 16-year-olds , the increase was almost double, from 18.8 per cent in 2016 to 36.1 per cent in 2017.
In its 2017 survey, ReachOut updated the definitions of bullying to clarify the broadening way young people can be bullied, including cyber-bullying . However, the increases are not solely attributed to the updated definition and ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said it was in part due to “not enough action at the national level” .
Mr Nicholas said that global tech giants were worth more than $1 trillion and had an obligation to fund real solutions to protect users against cyber-bullying through the establishment of a national Innovation Investment Fund, but so far there had been little willingness to act.
Giving games and platforms a star rating would show parents instantly how safe each one was, when it came to cyber-bullying .
Labor has said such a system should be explored. “The suggestion of a form of rating system has merit but it would be important to formulate the right criteria and evidence to inform a government-led approach,” Opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said.
But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and even the Office of the eSafety Commissioner have distanced themselves from such a scheme.
“The ACCC has no role in cyberbullying ,” a spokesman said.
ESafety Commissioner, and former Twitter and Microsoft executive Julie Inman Grant, said: “There are a number of rating systems that already exist, and we will continue to work with these systems to ensure parents can access the most accurate information .”
However there are no universal rating systems that clearly help parents decide what platform might be safest for their children.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said Australia was leading the world when it came to working towards ways to reduce cyber-bullying .
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This article is from the September 9 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition.