I think it’s safe to say that most parents worry about the safety of their kids. When it comes to online safety, in our conversations we’ve found that some parents worry more than others. The results of a Canadian survey conducted in 2013 and revealed recently indicate that kids worry about their online safety as well, and in some cases more than their parents do.
MediaSmart surveyed 5,436 Canadian students from grade 4 through grade 11, and asked them about their internet and cell phone use. The first report extracted from the extensive research is titled Life Online, and takes at a high level look at how kids are accessing the internet, what they are doing online and how they view their safety.
We focused on a few highlights pertaining to teen and pre teen views about online safety. Specifically:
- 82% of girls and 63% of boys agree that “they could be hurt by online strangers”
- 51% of girls view the internet as a safe place
- 61% of boys view the internet as a safe place
- Across genders, feelings of being safe online increase with age, from 50% of 4th graders feeling safe to 66% of 11th graders
- 90% of boys and 89% of girls agreed with the statement, “I know how to protect myself online”. The number agreeing with that statement also increased with age
On questions involving parental involvement in internet safety issues, the 2013 results were compared to a similar survey conducted in 2005.
- 30% fewer kids indicated that their parents had rules about kids meeting online acquaintances in person in 2013 vs. 2005
- 28% fewer respondents than in 2005 indicated that parents had rules about sites that the kids should not visit
- Overall, in households that had established internet rules for the kids, kids were less likely to engage in online activities that adults deem to be risky
There appears to be a disconnect here. While kids seem to believe they are doing a pretty good job keeping themselves safe online, the overall level of parental involvement in their internet safety has declined. From cyberbullying to predator risk, the potential dangers impacting kids online are not decreasing. We understand that for many parents, the pace of change in the internet and how their children are using is makes it very difficult to keep up. It is well worth the effort to spend some online time with your kids and attempt to make their browsing and communicating experience online as safe as possible.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.