Bullying in schools is a global issue, but New Zealand has the second highest rate of bullying in the OECD. One in two Kiwi kids are bullied at school at least once a month, and cyberbullying increasingly plays a major role in this.
Cyberbullying can have a devastating impact on children and teenagers. Social media platforms are most often used, and in the case of Snapchat content can be posted then 'disappear' after going viral through a school community.
Cyberbullying is a big problem for schools, with a recent cyberbullying survey showing that the majority of this type of bullying is done by a classmate. Social media is the most common cyberbullying platform worldwide.
We recently spoke with both a High School student and a counsellor about their experiences with the fallout around cyberbullying and technology use. In the words of 15 year old Jay, "My friend got cyberbullied so much he had to leave school this year."
It was great to speak with Kathryn Ryan from Radio New Zealand on the problem of smartphones in schools. Many of the schools we talk with are concerned about the rise of smartphone use in schools, and say that the majority of secondary school students now own a smartphone.
The main concerns involve students bypassing default internet filtering systems, and this generally occurs in one of two ways:
- By downloading a VPN (Virtual Private Network) from the app store, and connecting to school wifi but able to create a private 'tunnel' to bypass school internet filtering
- By turning up to school with 3G/4G data, and bypassing school internet filtering altogether. This data can also be used to hotspot other devices.
The recently announced Ministerial enquiry into mental health is well timed, with what has been labelled a 'mental health crisis' affecting increasingly younger teenagers and children throughout the country.
Emmanuel Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, suggests a mobile phone ban in schools could help prevent cyberbullying, and also encourage children to play outside at lunchtime.