So, How Well Do You Think You Know Your Teens?
My two teenage boys detest brussels sprouts, will absolutely avoid cleaning their rooms and would rather die than let me kiss them in public. One only reads magazines, the other does just the minimum amount of homework but they both respond particularly well to a bribe of hot chips!
Like most parents, I think I have a pretty good handle on how my teenage boys operate. And I really thought I was ‘clued in’ to their ‘online’ lives as well. But, according to research just released, this may not be the case at all.
‘The Secret Life of Teens’ survey, launched last week by McAfee, confirmed that Australian teenagers are tech savvy and socially networked but that they hide online activity from their parents, break the law through privacy and even meet up with strangers they have met online!
The study, which consisted of 500 Australian parents and 500 Australian teenagers, was devised to see whether there were any gaps between what teens are doing online and what parents think teens are doing. And whilst there was some common ground with parents and teens agreeing that teens spend around 3.5 hours online per day – there were also some big gaps that should provide us parents with a big wake-up call!
Here are some of the key results:
- 95% of Australian teens have Facebook with 72% accessing it everyday. On average, teens are opening their first social networking account at 13 without parental supervision.
- While 80% of parents trust their teens not to access age-inappropriate content online and over 50% believe their teens tell them everything they do online, 66.5% of teens said their parents or guardians don’t know everything they do online!
- Over 30% of teens admit to pirating music or movies online and 68% said they’d posted personal content online. Around 20 per cent intentionally access nude or pornographic images.
- 6% of teens admit to meeting up with a stranger after meeting online or posting revealing photos online. 9% admit to entering a private chat with a stranger they have met online.
- More than 25% of teens have been victims of cyber bullying with over 50% witnessing mean or cruel behaviour online. Over 90% said that this happened on Facebook.
- There is some good news! Over 50% of teens classify themselves as ‘engaged’ which means using social networks to talk with others and post their own opinions. Over 50% said they’ve received help with homework and almost 20% used the internet to get help from sites such as Kids Helpline.
The research also indicates that over 80% of parents are having conversations with their teens about online safety, though teens are clearly still engaging in risky behaviour whether it be sharing personal information online, pirating songs or even meeting up with a stranger!
While parents are to be applauded for engaging with their teens on online safety, the results of this survey really do highlight the huge need for some additional cyber education for our kids. In recognition of this, McAfee has announced a partnership with Life Education to develop a series of lessons on cyber safety for Australian primary school children. Well done McAfee – more on that next time!
Over the next few weeks, I will be delving a little deeper into this intriguing ‘Secret Life of Teens’ research so we can get a clearer picture of what is making our teens tick online and, most importantly, what we can do to keep them safe.