Today McAfee released the results from our survey “Secret Life of Teens,” which provides a detailed snapshot of online teen behavior. It reveals that 85 percent of teens go online somewhere other than at home and under the supervision of their parents, nearly a third (32 percent) of teens say they don’t tell their parents what they do while they are online, and 28 percent engage with strangers online. The survey results should serve as a wake-up call for many parents.
Kids today are using mobile devices more than ever to get connected, which means increased opportunities for unsupervised usage. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it can become one easily. I truly believe it comes down to values. It is not that young people today do not value privacy or security but rather that they value openness much more. To protect young people, we need education and technology, both of which are firmly in the hands of us parents. Kids cannot teach themselves to be safe online.
We commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the survey and in it we detail some pretty startling facts:
69 percent of teens divulged their physical location
28 percent chatted with strangers
Of those teens who chatted with strangers, defined as people whom they did not know in the offline world:
43 percent shared their first name
24 percent shared their email address
18 percent posted photos of themselves
12 percent posted their cell phone number
As the parent of a teenage girl, I found the results eye-opening that girls make themselves targets more often than boys: 32% of the girl respondents indicated they chat with strangers online vs. 24% of boy respondents. Byron Acohido of The Last Watchdog, has a great write-up of the report as well.
Times and technology have changed. It is very easy to be a cybercriminal and predator. Download and read this survey (I linked the copy on The Last Watchdog website). Share it with everyone you know who has children. Read it with your own children. Teachable moments are a great thing. This is a teachable moment.
Take back the Internet.