NEWS25 August 2016

US parents in the dark about teens’ online behaviour

News North America Privacy Trends Youth

US — A study of online safety attitudes and behaviours from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has revealed that 60% of US teen internet users have created online accounts that their parents are unaware of. 

Teen phone crop

This is more than twice the proportion of online parents who suspect their teens have secret accounts ( 28%). 

The research, Keeping up with generation app: NCSA parent/ teen online safety survey, is based on interviews with just over 800 online teens (aged 13 to 17 ) and a separate sample of roughly the same number of online parents. It was co-sponsored by Microsoft.

The findings revealed several signs of a ‘digital disconnect', including disagreement on rules surrounding online behaviour: while 67% of parents said their teens were required to report any online incidents that made them feel scared or uncomfortable, only 32% of the teens surveyed said they had been asked to follow this rule. 

Similarly, while 54% of parents said they had rules about downloading new apps or joining social networks, just 16% of teens reported having to stick to such a rule. 

“It’s gratifying to see that parents are taking on the challenge of educating their children on the fundamentals of online safety, but this survey shows that it’s time to update our approach to the tech talk,” said NCSA executive director Michael Kaiser.

“In an era where there’s a new app every day, it’s important that we change the lens of online safety from a tracking and monitoring perspective to a more empowering approach that prepares young people to better respond to the various challenges they will likely encounter in their online lives."