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October 20, 2010

What Do Modern Parents Fear More: Stranger Danger or Facebook Friend?

BLOG-Anxious-Parents In light of recent headlines, it’s no surprise that the increase in bullying and cyber-bullying among kids has found its place among the biggest fears on the minds of most parents today. How times have changed! Remember when stranger danger was on everyone’s minds? I taught both of my boys never to talk to strangers, never to get in a stranger’s car – while all of that is still relevant, it seems there are greater dangers out there, right under our own fingertips.

I recognize the irony in this, as someone thrilled by the possibilities of technology who was involved in three internet start-ups, to have to come to terms with the dark underbelly of what technology has enabled us, and our children, to do to each other.

Because we are always concerned with the safety and happiness of our families, we wanted to know: how are parents responding in the wake of these bullying incidents? Last week, we took action: we sponsored a national survey of parents whose families had been affected by bullying. One of the most interesting findings from that study was the clear and present danger of the Facebook “friend.” Nearly one in three (30%) parents of children 12-17 years old, fear bullying and cyber bullying over kidnapping, domestic terrorism, car accidents, suicide or any other incident.  And of parents whose children are under 12 years old, more than one in four (27%) parents say they are most afraid of bullying and cyber-bullying, with kidnapping ranked only slightly higher. Times have indeed changed: bullying and cyber-bullying have eclipsed kidnapping as the greatest fear parents have regarding their children’s safety.

The results from this survey also found that, in the wake of the recent headlines of teen suicides due to cyber-bullying and bullying, nearly ¾ of parents surveyed said they were now taking action and doing something differently with their parenting decisions, whether it was talking to their child more, monitoring their Facebook pages or other online activity, or paying closer attention to their child’s text messages.

The survey definitely sheds new light on the parental response to this tough situation. We like to think of our site as a great resource for all parents. Many of our articles and features on the site address real issues and hot topics for parents every day. For those parents facing bullying with their kids, there is a large amount of helpful content all over You can find posts on Editor-in-Chief Wendy Sachs’ blog, articles by child psychologist Dr. Robi Ludwig, and even my own experience with cyberbullying here. There are so many resources, right here on our site, to help your families address this very difficult issue.

Parents: what’s your greatest fear? Leave a comment below.


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Give up the cell phones and social internet sites and the problem is solved. Cell phones mini microwaves anyway, so just another reason to walk away. Of course, noone will...

Stephen Sands

Great article. Giving up technology will never work. We can never put the genie back in the bottle so we have to learn to live with it.

Our company is serious about protecting children and adults from stumbling onto sites that would rather not see. Images burned into a brain (especially a child's brain) are not easily erased.

Personally I agree that ultimately it is the parents who need to get involved and be involved in their kids browsing, texting and what is happening at their school. Not an easy job.

Jennifer K

I think that it is great that bullying has become such a big issue because I was subjected to bullying when I was a child and it was no big deal to anyone else but me. My biggest concern now though, is that I hear all these parents speaking out about "what to do if your child is being bullied," but no one ever says, "What do I do to make sure that my child isn't bullying someone else." If we all make sure that our kids aren't the bullies, that is the greatest step forward we can take.

Sara Smiles

The change will come as we embrace the spirit and attitude of kindness.


Great job! Thanks for sharing your story! I can't wait to hear more when I get to actually talk for more than a minute! You look awesome by the way - I hope you feel better too.

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