One in 16 Parents Admit to Finding Information Online About Their Children They Did Not Know

Published March 3rd, 2010 - 08:45 GMT

A new survey* released today by internet security firm, Trend Micro, suggests that while three in five parents (62%) had no idea about what information was publicly available about themselves or their kids, one in sixteen admitted to finding information about their kids they did not know about.
The survey results raise a number of issues, which are highlighted on Safer Internet Day (9th February 2010), designed to encourage responsible use of the internet especially amongst children and young people, particularly highlight issues around online privacy.
Surveying over 500 parents and over 500 children aged 10-16 across the United Kingdom; the findings reveal an enormous lack of education when it comes to matters of online privacy. The findings show:
-        Over one in ten parents are concerned about their children seeing their  
          Inappropriate pictures online (18%)
-        Over a third of parents (35%) believe they can be anonymous online
-        Approximately one in eight parents (12%) have no idea about where to go for advice concerning what is, and what is not, safe to put online, yet close to two thirds of parents said they trusted themselves with what they shared online and where they shared it (64%)
A role model?
According to the survey, more than three quarters of parents (76%) have revealed their email address online, a little under two third (60%) have revealed their postal address (compared to only 14% of kids), one in two adults (50%) posted photographs of themselves online, while two in five (37%) posted credit card details on sites.  Would these parents be willing to reveal such information over the phone, or on the street, to someone they didn’t know?

Kids – ahead of the game?
When asked about the use of the Internet, almost half of the ten year olds surveyed (48%), did not know what information they could and could not share online. The findings also show:

-        One in ten kids (12%) under 16 years old did not want their parents to discover pictures they have shared online
-        Shockingly, kids as young as 11 admitted to posting inappropriate photos
-        Three out of ten (31%) of 14 year olds said they used their mobile phones to go online
-        Two in ten 15 year olds regularly used their games console to go online
-        An alarming number of kids admitted to sharing chats online (42%) which they did not want their parents to see, while private chats and pictures of boyfriends/girlfriends also featured high on the ‘no go for parents’ list
“Our daughter spends around 1.5 hours a day online as part of her homework research and uses her own email account to tell friends about her day at school”, says Maren Stuetzer, secondary school teacher and parent to 10 year old daughter Hannah. “While we have access to her email account and can have frank conversations with her, she’s bound to be less open as she grows into a teenager which concerns me. We are also unsure as to how we can keep an eye on her once she starts using her mobile to go online. Five years ago, we got her the mobile on a pay as you go card but I see kids increasingly using their phones to surf online”, she added.

“The results seem to reflect that there may be a digital fracture in our modern families with online lives getting in the way of traditional heart to hearts and good parenting” said Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro.

“It’s time parents faced up to the consequences of their online activities”, said Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro. “Their children are digital natives who have grown up connected and these results seem to indicate that parents could certainly learn a thing or two from their kids.”

He added: “People need to realise that they are far from anonymous on the Internet and personal information of any kind is a valuable commodity for online criminals. Posting information such as photos, contact details, credit card details, addresses and telephone numbers, puts adults and children alike at risk of identity theft and also at risk of inappropriate contact from predators.

The first step to managing your online footprint is to discover what is out there, go and Google yourself you might just find something that surprises you”, he added.

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