Kapersky Lab recently published a study, “Growing Up Online: What Kids Conceal,” the first part of its global study into the behaviors of children online and constant connectivity impacts the way they communicate and leverage technology every day. In fact, 51% of American children admit to being online almost constantly, a number that boggles the minds of many parents.
In this new world where the Internet and connected devices play such a big role, parents are faced with a difficult question: How do you ensure children are raised in a secure and safe environment without intruding on their privacy? According to the survey (conducted by Kaspersky Lab and the iconKids & Youth agency), almost half of children (44%) worldwide hide potentially dangerous online activity from their parents, and that number rises to 57% in the U.S.
The older the child, the more he or she hides. At the age of 8-10 only a third (33%) of children do not inform their parents about incidents on the Web, but that number rises to 51% for teens aged 14-16.
Many parents of "uncommunicative” children remain ignorant of what their offspring encounter online. The more dangerous the activity, the less likely parents are to find out about it. For example, 56% of mothers and fathers know nothing about the actual amount of time their child spends on the Internet, while almost 70% have no idea about illegal downloading or cyberbullying.
Children not only keep silent about online behavior that is forbidden but also take measures to bypass parental control. Every third child (30%) admitted to this. They use passwords on their devices that their parents do not know, they go online when adults are away, delete the history of their online activities, etc. In addition, one in seven (14%) uses special programs that hide the apps they open, and one in five (22%) use anonymizer tools.
This is particularly alarming as a 2011 Pew Study reported that almost 90 percent of children have seen cyber bullying in the last year. The Journal of the American Medical Association found 50 percent of kids have been asked to sext. However, Warner said only 50 percent of parents talk with kids about avoiding these encounters.
On a positive note, many children stated in the Kapersky survey that they do nothing to bypass parental control software. In fact, three-quarters (75%) of children find it helpful if parents talk to them about cyber threats. They indicated they would feel safer if their parents provided guidance on the apps and websites that were OK to use and restricted access to those that weren’t. And that is a huge help for parents who want to protect their children wherever they are.
“Parent education plays a major role in protecting children online. If children think their parents are able to calmly discuss the issues they encounter, they are much more likely to confide in them. That’s why it’s very important for parents to find out more about online threats, increase their own cyber savviness and to build trust with their children in order to be a part of their lives, whether they are online or offline. Let children know that whatever happens, you are always there to listen, support and help. Moreover, recent research[i] from the European Commission shows that it is often children themselves who ask for parental controls to protect their younger siblings,” states Janice Richardson, Senior Advisor at European Schoolnet.
“Parental care and guidance cannot be limited to the real world only, because such a large part of children’s lives nowadays is spent online,” agrees Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab. “For those times when parents cannot be there, they can protect their child with specialized parental control solutions. These programs not only shield children from harmful sites and apps on desktops and mobile devices but also keep parents notified about any dangers, which in turn serves as an opportunity to have a more focused talk about online threats with your child.”
KSL.com lists the top programs for helping you monitor your child’s online behaviors. Using these tools can help your kids learn freedom and responsibility for themselves and their own choices and while you can try to maintain enough control so that they aren't out of control.
App Certain will email parents when their child downloads a new app, and will provide an analysis about that app like if the app has expensive in-app purchases or accesses your contact list. Parents can also utilize a "curfew mode" which gives the remote access ability to turn off their children's access to their apps and games.
Norton Family Parental Control
Cost: Free ($50 option)
The free version allows users to see which websites their kids are visiting from their computer or mobile device and allows parents to block specific sites. Users also can receive a 7-day history of their child's online activities. For parents worried about cyber bullying, the paid version installs on all computers in the home and android phone users can see their child's text messages.
K-9 Browser is a top-rated browser that individuals can use instead of the Internet Browser that comes with a phone service. The app will block adult content. It's available for the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android and desktop computer.
Cost: $5 per month
Mobile Watchdog allows users to monitor all cell phone activity on Android devices — text messaging, application use, and browsing use. The app will send you an email of a child's mobile phone activity.
Cost: Apple: $4.99; Net Nanny social: $20; Android: $12.99
Net Nanny has mobile monitoring services for Android and Apple that will help block adult content. It also offers Net Nanny Social which allows their software to screen for cyber bullying or unsafe activity. If anything unsafe is detected, parents receive an alert. Parents can also login and see all social media activity in a dashboard.
Adapted from articles by Kapersky Lab and KSL.com