An element of the Cyber-Safety Act introduced by the Nova Scotia government puts more onus on the parents of young cyberbullies.
If a victim sues a cyberbully in court, and the cyberbully is a minor, their parents can be on the hook for damages if they don’t reasonably supervise their online activity.
As a result, the chair of the province’s Cyberbullying Task Force says parents need to be better educated about technology and social media.
“In that context, it’s even more important that there be education available and the tools made available to parents so that they know first of all, what do we mean by reasonable online supervision, and perhaps more importantly, how do we do it?” says Wayne MacKay.
Parent Kelly George admits monitoring her children’s online activity can be a daunting task.
“I have teenage daughters and, you know, we have to be on the scene with everything,” says George. “We have to know what’s going on.”
“Generally, they’re not allowed to be online outside the room that I’m in,” says parent Dana Doiron. “They have their own tablets, but I know roughly what’s going on on the tablets at all times.”
MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University, says there are at least two recommendations in his task force report about the education department taking the lead in providing education to parents.
The report recommends offering courses through schools to educate parents about digital literacy, in respect to both technology and social media.
MacKay says he would like to see the province implement those recommendations.
“They’re under active consideration and I’ve already met with Professor MacKay,” says Marilyn More, the minister responsible for the Status of Women. “I have another meeting scheduled in the near future and we’ll be looking at those suggestions.”
More says the government will be launching an anti-bullying, anti-cyberbullying website soon, and is compiling material already available.
“I think the lead responsibility needs to be with education, first of all to produce these materials, but also to make it available through the schools because that’s still a major hub of activity,” says MacKay.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster