Parents are Under Appreciating Child Online Security

Serious teenage girl using laptop on dark bedroom floor
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As parents, we all want to offer our children the best opportunities to become healthy, happy, educated and responsible citizens. This is more important than ever thanks to the fact that kids are so net savvy, and in many cases, they know more than we do about surfing the web.

Studies, such as the Teens, Tweens and Technology study done by Intel Security in 2015, looks at the way teens and tweens use the Internet.

And the results are both interesting and something that parents who have children who use the Internet should understand.

There's Good News and Bad News

The most positive result of this study is that parents of tweens and teens have become much more aware of the threats from the Internet than ever before. About 91 percent of the parents who responded said that they have discussed social media risks with their children including the dangers associated with cyberbullying, cybercrimes, data stealing, identity theft and threats to online reputations. On top of this, about 85 percent of parents follow their children on social media, and most of the parents polled want children to receive cybersecurity or online safety training.

Though there was certainly good news from this study, there is also news that could be concerning. Some parents stated that they know their children's Internet knowledge is superior to their own, and this can hamper any attempt to monitor their children.

Additionally, tweens and teens admitted to hiding their presence on social media, either by deleting search history or aliases, and many kids confess to not wanting their parents to see their social media pages.

The Reality of "Stranger Danger"

In this survey, about half of the teens and tweens polled claimed that they have met or would meet someone in person that approached them online.

Scary, right?

It is understandable that our children want to meet new people, but parents should encourage their kids to do this in a different way, such as by doing extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the teens and tweens polled stated that they knew they should maintain their privacy, but many also unintentionally share personal information such as location, name, and photographs. This is all it takes for a "bad guy" to find your children.

Children and Cyberbullying

Children know that social media platforms are used by others to bully, and they do have a fear that they will become victims of this. However, a significant number of these same children admit bullying others online. This should be alarming for parents and should bring up the question of how we are raising our kids. Do we want a generation of people who are aggressive, rude and vengeful? Probably not, which is why educating children about cyberbullying is so important.

Children May Be Inviting Trouble Into Their Online Lives

Despite being aware, only about 42 percent of tweens and teens admit to never engaging in risky behavior online. The rest admitted to doing things online such as interacting with strangers, bullying, gambling, watching pornography or sharing intimate messages or photos.

As a parent, it is important to teach children that these things can have a negative influence on their future.

What You Can Do About It

  • Talk to kids about their online behavior and digital reputation
  • Monitor and mentor children on the Internet
  • Stay up to date on social media and follow your children
  • Set up rules for online use, and make sure to follow them yourself
  • Use security tools and monitoring software that have parental controls on any Internet-enabled device
  • Ensure security software is updated on all devices, and talk to kids about cybersecurity