You’ve read all about the digital divide, but this is something different: how your teenage kids are keeping you from knowing what they are really doing online. (Disclosure: my son graduated from college four years ago, so he can do whatever he wants online.)
McAfee’s 2012 Teen Internet Behavior study gathered data from interviews with more than 2,000 parents and kids (ages 13-17) and found that teens are not only engaging in risky behavior, but are also skillfully hiding it from mom and dad.
More than three in four parents expressed confidence they know how to find out what their teen is doing online, and half of parents live under the assumption that their teen tells them everything he/she does online. In reality, over two in three teens say their parents don’t need to know everything they do online and half of teens would actually change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching.
According to the survey, teens in this age group are spending an average of five hours a day online, but parents only think that they’re on the Internet for three.
What we know for sure is that kids between 8 and 18 spend almost 8 hours on their electronic devices every day.
Parents are trying to stay ahead of their kids’ behaviors by using security measures, implementing parental controls and even using GPS technology to keep track of their kids, but 23 percent of parents are “overwhelmed” by technology and are not monitoring their kids at all.
Despite parents’ best efforts, more than 70 percent of teens have found methods to bypass this monitoring. McAfee lists the following 10 methods teens are using to keep their online behavior hidden from their parents:
– Clear the browser history (53%)
– Close/minimize browser when parent walked in (46%)
– Hide or delete IMs or videos (34%)
– Lie or omit details about online activities (23%)
– Use a computer your parents don’t check (23%)
– Use an internet-enabled mobile device (21%)
– Use privacy settings to make certain content viewable only by friends (20%)
– Use private browsing modes (20%)
– Create private email address unknown to parents (15%)
– Create duplicate/fake social network profiles (9%)
Are you the parent of online teens, or preteens? Have you talked to them lately about online safety?
And let’s think about this, parents. What does it say that this many kids are trying to hide their behavior from their parents? What do you think?
Photo Credit: tapasparida
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