“So where’s your daughter?”
“Oh, she is in her room, on the net,” replied the indulgent Mother. “These kids have to share everything with their friends immediately. She wants to share the news about our imminent trip abroad.”
“Wow! That is good news indeed! But hope she is careful when she is sharing such news online with everyone. Do you know all her online friends?”
“Err not all of them…”
“Is she only on Facebook, or does she network on MySpace, Google+ or Orkut too?”
Alright, alright don’t panic. There are many sailing in the same boat —parents like you who are very protective of their kids, share a wonderful rapport with them and enjoy their confidence and yet are not aware of all the aspects of their teens’ cyber life. Many are also overwhelmed by technology and hence can only pray for the safety of their kids online. These and other interesting facts were revealed in the new McAfee commissioned survey titled ‘Secret Lives of Indian Teens‘
Here I will share some of the statistics I find interesting:
- The surveyed Indian teens spend 86% of their free time on Facebook
- 45% of surveyed teens are now using their smart phones for internet access
- 97% have a social networking account, the average account opening age being 13
If you just focus on the words highlighted, you will find that smartphones are the gadgets of choice, while even preteens are on Facebook in India. Clearly, the children have lied to sign up. I wonder if this was done with or without parental consent. In both cases, both parents and kids need to review their values and rules.
The survey covered teens across 7 Indian metros and the poll included an equal number of parents (but not of those surveyed) from these same cities who had teens at home.
The findings were an eye-opener and I will just compare two sets of responses from parents and teens to highlight the need for parental awareness and guidance:
- 79% of polled parents trust their teens to not access age-inappropriate online content
- 70% believe that their teens will tell them everything they do online
Now just compare the above responses with those of the teens:
- 47% polled teens have seen sexual content online
- 55% of the polled teens don’t tell their parents about their online activities
Do you see the discrepancy here? There are many such instances that cry out loud for more involvement of parents in their children’s online world. More than half of the polled kids said that they would change their online behavior if they came to know their parents were watching them!
One good finding is that 81% of polled parents believe using technology tools, like software, to keep their kids safe online! That’s a start and a good one too. The next step is to educate yourself and the third is to get involved in your teen’s cyber activities. Play games, take your kid’s help to learn how to search, surf, use online tools…you could have your fun and bond together!
So just don’t say “I am not sure” and give up. If you are the Mother of a preteen or teen, you better be sure for the sake of your child’s safety, for the safety of your gadgets and for the safety of your own sanity! Leaving a child alone on the net without the requisite training and rules is akin to letting him/her take the family car out for a spin without having learnt to drive and obtained a licence. You wouldn’t allow that would you.So why allow your child venture alone online without the basic training in safe surfing?
So here’s wishing you parents a wonderful discovery mission – Mission Cybersafety!! (Psst: You could also install McAfee family Protection for added protection and to significantly reduce your worries)