Cyber safety: Know key trends

AS parents, it is imperative we understand the key trends in kids' online behaviour and be vigilant about its impact on our own child. Check out one such posting about kids going online.

In addition, a recent Canadian study involving more than 6,000 students found that that there is a huge gap between what parents *think* their kids are doing while they are online, and what their kids are *actually* doing.

pc_warningSome key findings
  • 50% of kids using the Internet report having received pornographic junk mail.
  • 25% report having received pornography sent to them by someone they had met online, with boys more likely to have received it.
  • 50% of secondary school students report having been subjected to sexual advances from someone while online, with girls being more likely to have received such unwanted attention.
  • About 60% of tweens used chat rooms as a norm of communicating and socialising. The percentage goes up as they move into the teens.
  • Of those visiting private and adults-only chat rooms, 56% are boys.
  • 25% of tween and teen internet users report having been asked to meet face-to-face with someone they met online.
  • 15% admit to having met face-to-face with at least one person they had met online, and 12 per cent of these said it was a bad experience.

The study found that a key reason for these experiences is the fact that many kids mistakenly assume that they are completely anonymous while surfing, not realizing just how easy it is to link someone's email address or online identity with a real person in the real world. Just consider the recent case involving Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska whose email was hacked into by rather minimal bits of information obtained elsewhere online.

Says Jane Tallim who is one of the key researchers in study, "Kids are very naïve and trusting when it comes to this sort of thing."

We might add that many adults are equally trusting. One reason our own mailboxes have unsavoury correspondence could be due to such carelessless in the past, perhaps clicking open such emails out of curiosity!

quietSafety guide

We encourage parents to review the following safety precautions with their children:

  • Never give out personal information, such as your real name, age, location, phone number or school.
  • Never share your password with anyone except your parents. Someone else might use your password and pretend to be you, give out your personal information or do something that may get you into trouble.
  • Tell your parents if someone says or does something on the Internet that makes you uncomfortable (including cases of cyber bullying), or if someone asks you for personal information.
  • Choose a username that does not reflect your real identity. Avoid names that are in any way suggestive, even if they seem innocent to you.
  • Avoid chat rooms that are not monitored by moderators.

Over and above these basic passive guidelines, we parents must educate ourselves of its potential for harm, and be pro-active in protecting our children, keeping closer tabs on our children's online activities and striving to be Internet savvy enough to be able to understand them when they indulge in internet-speak.

One way could be joining relevant parenting forums and becoming actively engaged in discourse on how to be more effective guardians...and not just rely on passive monitoring!


Cyber safety: Is your child safe