The results of McAfee’s latest Teens, Tweens and Technology research study released today are enough to make any parent want to wrap their child in cotton wool forever. The study has shown that 81 per cent of Australian tweens and teens have witnessed cyberbullying online over the last 12 months– a whopping 56 per cent increase from last year!
First undertaken in 2013, the annual research project examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of Australian tweens and teens. Over 1000 Australian tweens and teens (aged 8-17) were interviewed for the 2014 study.
The significant increase in tweens and teens who have chatted online with or live tweeted someone they didn’t know was another statistic from the research that got my heart pumping. In 2013, only 19 per cent of young people chatted to someone they didn’t know but in 2014, 48 per cent of young people took this risk.
And the number of underage Facebook users is also on the increase. In 2013, 26 per cent of tweens were using Facebook but in 2014, 60 per cent of 10-12 year olds admit to having a Facebook profile. The legal age to set up a Facebook account is 13.
But when it comes to taking advice from parents, there is some good news. 80 per cent of our tweens and teens say they respect the guidance and advice from their parents when it comes to making personal decisions and managing social media. This is very encouraging. However, it appears as though parents are not fully across their children’s online activity with 70 per cent of kids saying their parents know only some of what they do online. Half say their parents can’t keep up with the technology and 70 per cent admit to proactively hiding what they do online from their parents.
So it’s clear – our young people are taking more risks online and are not always choosing to behave in a positive and respectful way online. Is this as a result of their growing comfort with social media or their increasing reliance on the gratification or ‘buzz’ they receive from online interactions?
Regardless, there is still work to be done. While the study shows that parents are ‘taking it up a notch’ with 11 per cent more parents imposing controls and taking steps to control their kids’ online behaviour than in 2013, our job is far from done.
As parents, we need to accept that keeping our kids safe online is an ongoing job. We need to be talking technology with our kids very regularly. Workshopping how to be a good digital citizen, how to minimise online risks and be savvy will help our kids make better decisions online.
So, please keep the communication flowing with your children. Why? Because as parents, we are our kids’ best firewall!
Till Next Time
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