Half of Australian young people say they have been cyberbullied in their lifetime according to research from mental health charity Headspace.
Data from its latest survey of over 1,000 young Australians, taken during last year's lockdowns, found cyberbullying continues to be rife among the community.
A third of young people reported they had someone post hurtful comments about them online in the past, while a quarter said they had been threatened harm on the internet.
CEO of Headspace, Jason Trethowan, said the high rate of cyberbullying – relatively unchanged from Headspace's 2018 National Youth Mental Health survey – is troubling.
“It is really worrying that the numbers of reported cyberbullying experiences in young people remain so high as the impacts of bullying and cyberbullying can be significant and long lasting," he said.
"We can see from the research that things aren’t getting better in this space and now is the time to do more."
The charity is using the survey data to promote its 'bullying isn't banter' campaign aimed at providing resources for children and their parents to recognise and stop online bullying.
Headspace encourages parents to regularly speak with their kids about online activity in order to better understand their experiences on the internet.
Headspace head of clinical leadership, and former AFL footballer, Nick Duigan said it was important for parents to learn more about cyberbullying.
"Young people rely on family and friends to role model appropriate online behaviour, and help them to build their skills in handling these challenges," he said.
"So, we’re strongly encouraging young people, parents and carers to get informed, to start a conversation, and take some steps to make their experiences online safer."
The eSafety Commissioner has tools to help support parents including a quick guide about the various kinds of social media and gaming services teens are using nowadays like TikTok and Among Us.
It recommends parents don't immediately jump to restricting online access, instead suggesting a course of action that helps young people develop resilience and learn about online safety through open dialogue and by helping them make informed decisions about how to respond to cyberbullying.
The eSafety Commissioner can direct social media companies and other sites to remove harmful or bullying content that is reported through its online reporting system.
The commissioner's powers are set to expand under new legislation to include online abuse directed at adults as well as giving companies less time – 24 hours instead of 48 hours – to respond to removal requests.
Julie Inman Grant, the eSafety Commissioner, told a recent senate committee that her office fielded 31,000 complaints from the public last year.