Tag Archives: parents

Join The Crowd – Snoop On Your Kids Internet Privacy – 55% Of Brits Do!

imageDo you monitor your children’s online activity? Is an invasion of your child’s privacy on such a scale, necessary? Do you tell yourself that you’re just being prudent?

We know from survey after survey, that teenagers have misplaced confidence in their ability to stay safe online. While the majority of teenagers say they are confident they can remain safe online, survey results continue to show a wide gap exists between the perception, and the reality.

Even so – is that state of affairs cause for alarm? Or, have parents been manipulated into a state of “perverts run amok” fear and anxiety, by a mainstream media which is expert at molding public perception – à la Rupert Murdoch and his now defunct News of the World? The fear mongering practiced by parental control security providers, I’ll leave for another time.

Given the often accepted (but, statistically false) notion that children/teenagers are in mortal danger in a technological age with its easy access to social networking, mobile communication (and all that entails), lost in the translation, it seems to me, are the practical benefits for adolescents that technology provides.

It would be difficult to argue to the contrary, that today’s young people face a tough, harsh “World”, the World of the Internet and attached devices –  in which the technology itself, the content it delivers and its instant contact capabilities – come with associated risks.

Undoubtedly, there are age specific potential risks but, snooping on your child’s or your adolescent’s online activity, is hardly what could be called – a positive influence. Certainly not when communication – the sharing of knowledge and safety strategies – coupled with effective guidance, is much more likely to lead to the results that all parents are seeking.

The reality is – staying safe in today’s techno centric world demands knowledge, and acquiring that knowledge requires that a major effort be made to obtain it. If you, as a parent, see the need to positively influence your young person’s technology habits then, you must make the effort to acquire the appropriate knowledge.

On the other hand, you can always take the easy way out and – just snoop. If you so choose, rest assured that you’ll have lots of company.

According to a recently released study commissioned by security application provider BullGuard, made up of 2000 interviews of internet users across the UK – 55% of parents “keep an eye” on a son or daughter by checking their social networking profile, with a further 5% saying “they would if they knew how”.

This snooping doesn’t stop there however – 76% of respondents say they check Internet history to ensure children aren’t visiting unsuitable websites –  21% check instant messaging history, and 23% snoop through email accounts.

Additional information on the survey is available here.

Young people value their privacy – just as we all do. I suspect that those parents who routinely violate this privacy compact, as the 55% of respondents to this survey apparently do, may well have additional issues (other than a lack of appropriate parenting skills), with which they need to deal. I suspect that their mental balance sheet is more than a little skewed.

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Filed under Internet Safety for Teenagers, Online Safety, Point of View, social networking, Social Networks, Windows Tips and Tools

The Internet is NOT Childs Play – Internet Tips for Parents

imageIn the last year,  McAfee Inc., the well known provider of antivirus software and intrusion prevention solutions, released research which indicated that most American mothers rate their teenagers’ online safety, their exposure to drugs and drunk driving, as essentially equal anxiety producing agents.

So, were these mothers concerns justified?

You bet! While it’s true that the Internet can provide a rich educational and cultural experience for children, and teenagers, it is virtually impossible for them not to be exposed to,  “the underbelly of the internet”.

One of the more harmful urban myths, which most adults believe is, we have raised, or are raising a “tech savvy” generation. This “truth” however, should not be taken at face value.

Simply because a teenager is more comfortable with technology than a parent, does not makes a teenager tech savvy. Knowing how to text message, or load a game onto an Xbox, does not make one “tech savvy”. It really is a situation where “they don’t know what they don’t know”, can have serious impact.

I fully understand where this idea of the tech savvy generation comes from – just listen to the mainstream media. The media constantly pontificates on how technically literate today’s young people are. The dichotomy is, these are the same young people whose literacy skills are insufficient to deal with their own education, never mind the complexities the techno world presents.

If you think this is an overstated argument, then consider this: According to a study of more than 19,000 college graduates, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, only 31 percent can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. Without doubt, the world of Internet security is the most complex world I have ever inhabited.

Staying safe in today’s techno centric world demands knowledge, and acquiring that knowledge requires that a major effort be made to obtain it. Lacking in appropriate literacy skills makes the job of accumulating that knowledge a difficult undertaking.

It’s no wonder then, that the majority of children, and teenagers, are undereducated when it comes to recognizing the dangers, and threats, that the Internet poses to their personal privacy and safety.

Let me ask you this question – would you drop off your child, or teenager, in a neighborhood where more than half of the buildings were adult stores, and which was potentially full of predators?

In my view, if you allow your child, or younger teenager, to interact with the Internet unsupervised, or without having communicated to your child information concerning potential on-line dangers, this is what you may well be doing.

How much do you know about where your child goes on the Internet?

What social networking sites does your child subscribes to?

Who are their online friends and acquaintances?

What does your child post online and where is it posted?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you are not alone. Recent statistics make it clear that fully 80% of parents don’t know.

It’s easy to see why this knowledge gap exists; since reports indicate 8 of out of 10 parents give their children unrestricted access to the Internet, without implementing parental control settings.

Additional study statistics:

Providing personal information to online strangers – 52 per cent of teens in the study reported having done so.

Providing a photograph, or a physical description, to online strangers – 34 per cent of teenage girls in the study, reported having done so.

Clearing the browser cache so that their Internet history cannot be tracked – 32 per cent of the teenagers in the study, reported having done so.

I found the most surprising and troubling statistic to be; 16 per cent of the teenagers involved in the McAfee study, indicated they had developed social networking profiles and Email addresses, which they had hidden from their parents.

So what’s a concerned parent to do?

fbi_logo 2

You can bring yourself and your teenager up to speed on online safety, by taking the “McAfee/Comcast Cyber Summer Safety Challenge”. You might be surprised at what you can learn.

Then, follow the advice offered by the FBI in the United States, which lists some of the most important positive actions, you as a parent, can take to reduce your teenagers possible victimization on the Internet.

According to the FBI, the following are some of the most important positive actions, you as a parent, can take to reduce your child’s possible victimization on the Internet.

Communicate, and talk to your child about potential on-line dangers.

Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.

Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom.

Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.

Since computer-sex offenders are a very real danger on the Internet, the FBI suggests that you instruct your children to:

Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line.

Never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or an on-line service to people they do not personally know.

Never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number.

Never download pictures from an unknown source; there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images.

Never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.

Parental Control Bar 2

An important aspect of ensuring that your child is safe while using the Internet, (recommended by child safety experts/organizations), is the installation of parental control software.

Parental controls will provide you with the advantage of being able to:

Block access to materials (text and pictures) identified as inappropriate for kids.

Permit access only to materials specifically approved as safe for kids.

Specify what types of materials are appropriate for your child.

Monitor your child’s activity on the Internet by storing names of sites and/or snapshots of material seen by your child on the computer for you to view later.

Set different restrictions for each family member.

Limit results of an Internet search to content appropriate for kids

Enforce time limits set by parents.

If your operating system does not offer parental control features, and you would like to implement this, then check out my review, on this site, of a free application offered by WRAAC.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free and effective Internet control tools – “Free Internet Child Protection – Parental Control Bar”.

An additional problematic issues is, the issue of sex, tech and teens; more precisely – teenaged sexting. For information on this current issue, please read “Sexting – A Real Problem or an Overreaction?” on this site.

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Filed under Child Safety Internet, cybercrime, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Internet Safety for Teenagers, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Parenting Help, Sexting, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools