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Technology / Software

Survey reveals parents are blind to teen online behaviour

Teen online
Photo Credit: Jerry Bunkers

The McAfee survey investigates the online interests, habits, behaviours and lifestyles of teenagers that have growing up with the internet.

As the first generation to grow up with online influence teens are increasingly becoming savvy in hiding their online behaviour from parents like posting personal information and risky photos online.

Many teenagers access inappropriate content online even though 73% have prents who trust them not to access inappropriate online content.

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The survey reveals that over 30% of teens have accessed nude content or pornography online.

"While it is not necessarily surprising that teens are engaging in the same types of rebellious behaviours online that they exhibit offline, it is surprising how disconnected their parents are," says Stanley Holditch, Online Safety Expert for McAfee.

Yet, over 50% of parents insist that their teens tell them everything they do online and that they are in full control of monitoring their teen’s online movements.

The percentage of teens able to find ways to avoid parental monitoring has risen from 45% in 2010 to over 70% in 2012.

"There is a major increase in the number of teens finding ways to hide what they do online from their parents, as compared to the 2010 study," says Holditch. "This is a generation that is so comfortable with technology that they are surpassing their parents in understanding and getting away with behaviours that are putting their safety at risk."

Teens are also participating in illegal online activity. The study reveals that 15% of teens have actually hacked a social network account, 30% have accessed pirated music and movies and just over 8% have hacked someone’s email account.

Easy access to internet has also made it easier for teens to cheat in school with 48% admitting they have looked up answers to a test online.

"Parents need to get informed about their children’s online behaviour," says Robert Siciliano, McAfee Online Security Expert. "The fact is that allowing teens to participate in unmonitored online activity exposes them to real dangers with real consequences, and these dangers are growing exponentially with the proliferation of social networks."

Despite many parents denying their kids are involved in such behaviours, some are taking initiative with online monitoring for their kids.

McAfee revealed that a number of parents have taken set parental controls, obtained their teen’s email and social network passwords, taken away computer and mobile devices, as well as tracking their teens through location-based devices.

There are still 23% of adults who have given up in defeat because they are overwhelmed by various technologies their teens access.

McAfee lists the 10 top ways teens are fooling their parents:

1. Clearing the browser history (53%)

2. Close/minimize browser when parent walked in (46%)

3. Hide or delete IMs or videos (34%)

4. Lie or omit details about online activities (23%)

5. Use a computer your parents don’t check (23%)

6. Use an internet-enabled mobile device (21%)

7. Use privacy settings to make certain content viewable only by friends (20%)

8. Use private browsing modes (20%)

9. Create private email address unknown to parents (15%)

10. Create duplicate/fake social network profiles (9%)

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