Openet, a leading provider of Service Optimization Software (SOS) to tier one communications service providers, today announces the results of a survey conducted on their behalf by Harris Interactive on communications usage among teens in the United States. The survey was conducted online among 503 U.S. 13-17 year old cell phone users. The study found that cyber-bullying via cell phones or online is a major issue among this age group, resulting in emotional impact.
Cyber-bullying is a national problem, and several states have proposed legislation to prevent this type of harassment across all media. In this vein, the objectives of the Openet-sponsored survey are to inform parents of the safety risks associated with teens’ communications usage and to arm parents with useful knowledge and potential solutions to help protect their teens from these risks by:
• Identifying the characteristics of teens who engage in inappropriate or unsafe cell phone usage;
• Identifying the characteristics of teens who bully others via cell phone and/or online as well as those who are bullied themselves;
• Understanding the state of parental influence in communications usage and examining self-reported assessment measures for each of these key groups.
Results of the survey do not just point to children who are the victims of cyber-bullying; instead, they paint a clear picture of both the victims and perpetrators of this behavior. While 41 percent of teens say they have been cyber-bullied on their cell phone or online, one-quarter (25 percent) admit they are cyber-bullies themselves.
The research also finds that heavy cell phone users are more likely to engage in inappropriate activity on their cell phones, including cyber-bullying activities. The average teenager sends approximately 1,800 texts a month, and 23 percent of teens send more than that, putting them in the “heavy cell phone user” category. Close to half (46 percent) of heavy users experience cyber-bullying on their cell phones, a much higher rate compared to just 23 percent of lighter users. Heavy users are also more likely to admit using their cell phones during inappropriate times, like at night when they should be sleeping (94 percent vs. 70 percent of lighter users) or in school during class (74 percent vs. 41 percent).
“As a parent of a teenager who was the target of mobile and online cyber-bullying, I know first-hand how critical it is for both parents and teens to have access to a Parental Controls technology,” said bestselling authorand founder of the largest student-led campaign against cyber-bullying, Shawn Edgington. “After adding parental controls to my daughter’s mobile phone, she was instantly empowered to block her text-harassers. I was also able to limit the times in which she could receive texts. Parents need to have control over usage, and teens need the ability to limit who can send them text messages.”
While parental supervision and rules are important for regulating cell phone use among teens, it is critical that wireless carriers offer ways for parents to physically restrict access and usage through governance of the device itself. Teens that experience and participate in cyber-bullying are more likely to get into trouble or feel unhappy than those who do neither, the study reports.
“The proliferation of mobile access cuts both ways for teenagers,” said Michael Manzo, CMO of Openet. “While this age group needs an effective way to communicate with parents and friends, mobile devices can also serve as a gateway to behavior that is damaging for both the victim and the perpetrator. While legislation against cyber-bullying, along with parental supervision, are a good start to preventing this activity, wireless carriers also bear a responsibility to help ensure that parents can monitor and control their children’s mobile phone access and usage.”
For more information on the survey and Openet’s updated Parental Controls solution, please visit openet.com/parentalcontrols/.
Openet (openet.com) is a leading provider of Service Optimization Software (SOS) tailored to meet the evolving needs of communications service providers, or CSPs, including wireless, wireline and cable network operators. Openet’s integrated, high-performance software solutions provide real-time policy management, rating, charging and subscriber data management solutions to enable real-time, contextual network resource allocation and monetization decisions based on information about the end user and the service being used. CSPs use Openet’s SOS solutions to enhance quality of service, create a more personalized end user experience, develop new business models and dynamically control network resources. Openet’s SOS solutions are used by more than 80 customers in 28 countries.