During her stay in Adelaide, Dr Antonella Brighi (pictured) from the University of Bologna will develop a joint study with researchers from Flinders School of Education to investigate whether cultural backgrounds influence parents’ monitoring of their child’s internet usage.
Supported by Flinders Visiting International Research Fellowship, the partnership builds on Dr Brighi’s first trip to Flinders in January 2012 to set up collaborative research links between the two universities.
Dr Brighi, a lecturer in developmental psychology, said she would compare existing data from a survey of Italian parents’ internet supervision behaviours with that of evidence to be collected from Australian parents to understand the role of culture in parental internet monitoring.
The ultimate aim, she said, would be to determine which dimensions of parental supervision reduce the risk of cyber bullying.
“There are three main dimensions to parental monitoring,” Dr Brighi, who is based in the School of Education and Psychology at Bologna, said.
“There’s control, which is what parents do to control their child’s activities, solicitation which is when parents ask their children what they’re doing on the internet and, lastly, disclosure, which is the will of the child to freely communicate the positive and negative of their internet interactions,” she said.
“Based on the data we’ve collected in Italy we know that parental control alone, particularly in the adolescent age, isn’t able to reduce the risk of bullying.
“It’s better to invest time improving relationships between parent and child at an early age than enforce strict rules at the adolescent age because adolescents know how to get around the rules.
“Now that we have this information we want to compare it to Australia to look for cross-cultural differences and consistencies in parental monitoring to give us a bigger picture.”
Joint research on cyber bullying and mental health will also be planned during Dr Brighi’s time at Flinders, as well as the feasibility of a memorandum of understanding and cotutelle program offering doctoral degree students the chance to earn a double-badged PhD from both Bologna and Flinders.
Dr Brighi said she would also tap into Flinders strong expertise in cyber bullying intervention, particularly the work of Professor Phillip Slee, Professor Rosalind Murray-Harvey and Dr Grace Skrzypiec, to inform policy and debate in Italy.
“Flinders has great expertise in both research and intervention but in Italy we’re still developing a national policy on cyber bullying so I’m interested in picking up ideas from Flinders to see how we can apply them in Italy,” she said.
Read more Flinders research on bullying: Spelling an end to schoolyard bullying.