Attention, parents with kids between 8 and 17! Here’s a statistic that is probably going to make you squirm – apologies in advance. Conversations between Aussie parents and their kids about cyber safety have dropped an alarming 23% compared to previous years. Eeeekkk! This startling statistic is part of research conducted by McAfee and Life Education to mark the start of Privacy Awareness Week in Australia.
Let’s Look At The Key Stats
The research, entitled ‘Trust and Transparency in Australian Family Households‘, surveyed over 1,000 Aussie adults and kids to gather insights on the online behaviour of both adults and kids. And the results are NOT great. We have taken our eye off the ball, parents, and we need to fix it ASAP!!! Here’s why:
- Compared to previous years, conversations with our kids about online safety are down a whopping 23%!!
- 41% of Aussie kids admit to hiding their online activity from their parents – and increase from 37% in previous years.
- Our teens are using unreliable factors to determine how trustworthy apps and websites are, which has implications for their privacy. 83% of kids consider a site to be safe if ‘friends are using it’ while only 17% bother to check out the Terms & Conditions before they decide if they sign up.
We also need to take a good look at ourselves – the evidence is clear:
- 2 out of 3 parents (66%) share their password with someone else.
- 23% of parents do not have any restrictions in place to stop their children purchasing apps or making in-app purchases.
- 41% of parents follow their kids on social media, compared with 66% in previous years.
- Conversations about key online issues are down. In previous years 84% of us spoke to our kids about cyber bullying, whereas only 69% of us are doing so now.
What Does This Mean For Us?
Many experts would agree that our generation is subject to challenges and pressures that previous generations never had to face. Whether it’s the constantly increasing cost of living and housing, the consequent work/family juggle to pay the bills, and of course the internet – we have lots on our plate. Many of us feel overwhelmed and time poor and that’s perfectly understandable.
However, we need to prioritise our children’s safety and that means upping the ante when it comes to teaching online safety. Schools do play a role here, but as parents it is our responsibility to ensure our kids are informed about the risks and pitfalls of the internet, and understand how to navigate this digital world while keeping their digital reputation and privacy intact.
Suggested Next Steps
So, here’s five things you can do this week in your home to get cyber safety back on the agenda:
- At dinner time, talk about some of the recent scams that have been in the news. The Australian government’s Scamwatch website is a good source, as are reputable news sites.
- For conversations this week, you could focus on the Can You Hear Me? phone scam or the Internet Pop-Up Scams that allow hackers remote access to your computer and have cost Aussies more than $41,000 so far this year.
Audit Privacy Settings
- Have your kids check all their social media accounts to ensure they are set to ‘private’ so only their true friends can see their private information.
- Each social media platform will have its own Help page which provides specific steps on how to do this.
- Strong and complex passwords are essential to keeping your online information tight.
- Ideally a password should have at least 8-10 characters and be a combination of letters – upper and lower case – numbers, and symbols.
- Each online account should have its own password, too – which is a very overwhelming concept!
- Consider using a password manager like the True Key app to help generate and manage all your passwords.
Ensure Your Kids Have A Plan If They Encounter Cyber Bullying
- It is essential your kids know what to do if they either experience or witness cyber bullying.
- Taking a screenshot is the absolute first course of action.
- It is important that they don’t engage with the bully as that ‘feeds’ the bully’s sense of power.
- Reporting the incident is the next step – to a parent, teacher, trusted adult friend, or even the police.
Protect Your – And Your Children’s – Digital Life
- Comprehensive security software is an easy way to ensure your online life – and your children’s – is as secure as possible.
- Not only will it guard you against viruses and threats, direct you away from risky websites and dangerous downloads, and protect your smartphones and tablets, it can also back up your important files.
- McAfee Total Protection software comes with a 100% guarantee to protect you against viruses.
I know it all might seem like a lot of work, but teaching your kids about online privacy and safety needs to be a top priority for us all. Let’s get the statistics back under control and get those cyber safety discussions happening again. And make sure you’ve got something delicious planned for dinner because it’s the absolute best time to have these conversations!
Till next time!
PS: Better still, why not order pizza? It’s often cheaper online!