A new survey by ESET Ireland reveals the majority of children over 13 are left unsupervised by parents when online.
Imagine the Internet is like a large city. Like any large bustling city, with everything fun and useful it offers, the Internet also has its shady streets and underpasses full of criminal and malicious activity. But while most parents are concerned where their children would go alone in a busy city, they seem much less concerned about where they go online.
That is why we have commissioned a survey from Amárach Research, to find out how Irish parents supervise their kids’ activities online. The results, based on a sample of over a thousand people, surprised us a bit.
Question: Is your child left unsupervised online?
The graph shows how many parents of children of a certain age said YES.
We asked if children of different age groups (ranging from 6 to 16) were left unsupervised online, and it turns out parents seem to supervise less and less as the children age. So the youngest group of 6-7 years of age were only left unsupervised in 27% of the cases, then supervision drops incrementally to 73% being unsupervised in the 16 years age group.
While this seems to make sense in the usual state of affairs of bringing up children and handing over responsibility as they mature, in the case of being online, it is perhaps worth pointing out that the Internet has bad neighbourhoods and shady corners for every age group (adults not excluded). You have possible paedophiles out there preying on the youngest and most vulnerable, but also illegal music, movies and software downloading and pornographic websites with their malware loads infecting the computers of the older ones. And then if they do online shopping as well and have their credit cards compromised … well you get the picture. Not to mention the older children age groups also probably spend most time online, and should therefore be especially educated about things such as Facebook privacy, safe online shopping and malware threats.
Most parents will probably say “But my child knows much more about computers than I do!”, so how to stay on top of what’s going on? At ESET Ireland we’re aware that online security isn’t just a battle between evil malware and good security software, but that it is instead a complex mix of measures, practices and awareness as well. So here’s what we suggest:
- Know the dangers out there and talk about them with your family. Explain to your children which things are dangerous and how to avoid them.
- You should know what your children do with the computer. Do they download pirated material and run cracked software and shop online on the same computer? Do they surf dangerous websites?
- You should know who they talk to when online. Is it only friends and acquaintances or also unknown people, engaging them in potentially unwanted activities.
- Special attention should go to Facebook and other social media privacy. How posting inappropriate content can get one in trouble and how to avoid cyber bullying.
- Think about installing Parental Control software which lets you monitor and limit computer use, as well as block many categories of offending websites and programs.
Stay safe online. Think before you click.