Survey shows parents not aware of what teens are looking at online

Survey shows parents not aware of what teens are looking at online
Asking questions at an online safety talk in Scoil Chaitriona National School, Dublin

A new study says there is a huge gap between what teenagers are doing online and what their parents are aware of.

A Digital Divide Study from McAfee shows that 1-in-4 parents believe their teen tells them everything they do on the Internet. But nearly a quarter of teenagers say they have searched for pornography, and over half say they have viewed a video their parents would not approve of.

The programme aims to educate children about staying safe online and was launched today by Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

“I commend McAfee for launching this national online safety initiative, which will be of interest to many parents and young people,” said the Taoiseach.

“The results of the Digital Divide survey will be a cause for concern among some parents but information and education are the way forward.

Technology has enhanced all of our lives and continues to do so, and it is also a key building block in our country's economic recovery and the future of our children.

"However, their safety is all-important and raising awareness and skill levels through initiatives like the one being undertaken by McAfee are essential.”

Key survey points:

This disconnect between parents and teens is leading to many teenagers undertaking questionable, dangerous and even illegal activity:

- Disturbingly, more than one in 10 (11%) said they had actually met up with someone they met online

- Despite 57% of parents trusting their child not to access inappropriate content online, 23% of teens admitted intentionally searching for pornography, 26% have looked up sexual topics online and 56% have viewed a video they know their parents wouldn’t approve of

- A third of teens (33%) have looked up answers to a test/assignment online

- Just over a third (34%) have looked up simulated violence online

- One in 10 teens admitted to having posted revealing pictures of themselves online, with 12% posting a comment containing foul language online with the same amount regretting it later

- 16% admitted to getting into trouble at home or at school as a result of being on a social network

- 45% downloaded pirated music or movies online

“We believe the findings from this study will come as quite a shock to some parents, and we hope it will encourage them to take immediate action to protect their children,” said Paul Walsh, Vice President, Engineering, EMEA at McAfee.

“It is clear that a huge gap exists between what teens are doing online, and what parents are aware of.

"Parents must take an active role to ensure their teens are practicing safe online behaviour.”

The research coincides with today’s announcement that the McAfee Online Safety for Kids programme will now extend nationally across Ireland.

McAfee launched a pilot programme in Cork in January. To-date, 80 McAfee volunteers in Cork have taught at more than 30 schools and community centres, reaching more than 3,000 young people, parents and teachers. To take the programme to a national level, McAfee will leverage the power of Intel, Ireland’s largest employer, to join forces on volunteer efforts.

In 2014, McAfee will reach more than 10,000 kids in Ireland.


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