The whole purpose of your “youth” is to grow and learn. It’s time to take in lots of information, so ultimately they can evolve, accomplish, and get ahead. However the pressure to grow and climb the ladder of life often leads to unwanted behaviors and actions that lead to significant negative consequences. And with everyone being online these days, it only adds to these consequences.
Technology has really added fuel to the fire for two well-known tween-teenage activities: bullying and cheating. Bullying has moved from the playground to online and cheating has a whole new realm beyond writing information on your hand or arm.
According to McAfee’s 2013 Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids study, children are witnessing bullying online in great numbers and parents are not fully aware of the issues. Additionally, children are continuing to find ways to use technology to cheat, while only half of the parents of cheating kids believed they had done so.
- Social media isn’t all fun and games – 89% of all youth (ages 10-23) surveyed say they witnessed mean behavior on Facebook and 40% on Twitter.
- Kids don’t outgrow bullying – 17% of children ages 10-12 say they have witnessed mean behavior directed at a classmate or friend online, but that number jumps to 34% for young adults ages 18-23.
- Parents don’t know the full extent of the problem – Only 9% of parents believe their child or children have witnessed cruel behavior online; even worse, only 6% think that their son or daughter has been a target of this cyber bullying, when in reality 13% of youth report they have been targeted online.
- Peer pressure spreads to the Internet – 4% of youth said they’ve been pressured into bullying someone online.
- It’s a bigger problem than you think – More than half of all 13-23 year olds surveyed admitted to looking up the answer to a test or assignment online; only 17% of parents believe their child has done so.
- Smartphones are making us dumber – While only 10% of 10-12 year olds said they had cheated on at test using a cell phone, this percentage doubles when looking at 18-23 demographic.
- The Internet is teaching kids things you don’t want them to know – Only 2% of parents believe their child has ever cheated on a test using a technique they found online when in reality more than 1 in every 10 youth surveyed admitted to doing so.
- Growing up is hard to do – More than a quarter of young adults ages 18-23 cheated with help from technology as opposed to 14% of 10-12 year olds.
So what do we as parents do to help change this negative behaviors? We must stay in-the-know. Since your kids have grown up in an online world, they may be more online savvy than you, but you can’t give up. You must challenge yourselves to become familiar with the complexities of the teen online universe and stay educated on the various devices your teens are using to go online.
- Make sure you talk to your kids about Internet safety and what is and is not appropriate behavior online.
- Establish clear guidelines that you all agree on including time spent online, and what type of content is ok post online.
- Teach your kids to recognize cyberbullying and encourage them to talk to you about it.
- Learn what your kids are doing with their mobile devices while they are in and out of school. It may surprise you to know how much time they are spending on them.
- Consider using tools to help keep your kids safe online and support family Internet rules. Parental control software such as McAfee Safe Eyes lets you protect your kids from inappropriate sites and stay informed about their online activities.