Children of the Night

Kids Don’t Tell Parents The Truth About Online Activities
by: Jerry Liao

Webroot Software , Inc., a leading provider of security software for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets, announced a research that shows a disconnect between parents and their children regarding Internet usage. The Webroot State of Internet Security Report, which corroborates existing concerns regarding the online activities of children ages 5 to 17, uncovers a number of discrepancies among children’s self–reported online activities versus what parents believe them to be. The report further discusses potential legal implications and security risks parents may face due to their children’s online behavior and best practices for ensuring a safe online experience for children.

“These discrepancies, while not shocking for many parents, are concerning. Without proper parental guidance, children can put themselves at risk, compromise valuable family information, or be the sources of bad behavior like illegally downloading videos or music or bullying,” said Mike Irwin, COO, Webroot Software. “The good news here is that these potential problems can be largely avoided if parents apply the same vigilance to the online world as in the ‘offline’ world. Direct and ongoing conversations with our kids, and establishing guidelines with the help of the right technology, will go a long way in supporting good judgment.”

Internet Disconnect
While more than 70 percent of the children surveyed (ages 11 to 17) said their parents ask them about their online activities, the Webroot State of Internet Security Report unveiled a number of significant differences between child Internet activities compared to parent perception.

– Forty–five percent of children surveyed say they spend an average of three or more hours on the Internet daily while, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 61 percent of all 13 year olds spend one hour or less on homework; 76 percent of parents believe their children spend an average of two hours or less on the Internet.

– Forty percent of the children utilize instant messaging and social networking websites, such as MySpace and Facebook everyday; only 30 percent of the parents surveyed believe their children use these sites.

– More than half of the children said they buy things online; 71 percent of parents said their children never buy over the Internet.

Parents’ Online Concerns
The report also found that parents and guardians, of children ages 5 to 17, are understandably concerned about the risks associated with Internet usage including exposure to online predators and pornography.

– Forty–three percent of teens surveyed who use social networking sites reported an invitation via the Internet to meet someone they did not know within the past year.

– Nearly 40 percent of children ages 11 to 17 reported they received a sexually explicit email or pop–up advertisement within the past year. Nearly 100 percent of the children surveyed utilize email.

With all of the challenges parents face in protecting their children, they must also remember to protect themselves. The Consumer Reports “State of the Net Survey” found that in homes where children under 18 used the Internet, there was a 28 percent increase in spyware infections in the preceding six months.

“Not only do parents need to be concerned about teaching their children about online safety, but they need to protect themselves as well as their home computing systems. Parents are leaving themselves open to cyber criminals and putting their personal data at risk if their child unknowingly, or even knowingly, engages in dangerous activity or chat while on social networking sites, malware infected sites, clicking on random links, or opening email from strangers,” added Irwin. “And, it’s just as important that parents realize their responsibility if their child engages in hacking, bullying or trademark or copyright violations committed by their children when illegally downloading music or videos. A little awareness can be very helpful.”

Webroot issues reports on a quarterly basis to provide an in–depth review and analysis of the most pressing computer and data security–related concerns. “The State of Internet Security: Protecting Children Online” includes surveys from more than 600 children and 600 parents within the United States in addition to a variety of industry resources.

The complete State of Internet Security report is available at: http://www.webroot.com/pdf/Webroot_SoIS_Q0207.pdf

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