By 21 November 2011 | Categories: news


The latest Norton Online Family Report sheds some stark light on some of the issues facing children and their parents in the digital age. The report is characterised by an astonishingly high number of children who report having a negative experience online, the rise of a type of cyber-bullying behaviour directed at teachers, and a high number of kids who take liberties with their parents’ credit cards.

According to the report, one of the new and growing phenomenon is cyberbaiting, whereby students first taunt or bait a teacher until he or she cracks, filming the incident on their mobile device so they can post the footage online, embarrassing the teacher and the school.

The report elaborated that in South Africa, 30% of teachers have personally experienced or knows another teacher who has experienced this phenomenon. Only 55% of teachers indicated that their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media, despite the belief by many teachers that ‘friending’ a student on a social network made them more vulnerable.
Do you know where your credit card is?

Additionally identified in the report is a high number of children who use their parent’s credit cards to shop online. Globally, 23% of parents who let their children use their debit or credit card to shop online say their kids have overspent, while more than 30% of parents, state that their child has used their debit or credit card to shop online without consent.

More than half of parents (53%) who let their child shop online using their online store account reported that their child has used it without permission.  

The research into children’s online activities also uncovered:
  • Only 5% of parents in South Africa say they have no idea what their children do online, but 10% of children in South Africa think their parents have no idea about their online activities
  • 34% of South African kids say they sometimes stop what they are doing online if they know their parents are watching
  • 72% of South African parents have house rules about how much time their kids can spend online and only 49% have set parental controls on the family computer
  • 25% of kids in South Africa have experienced a negative situation on their mobile phone, 10% had been bullied by mobile phone and 5% said they had experienced other cybercrime/negative situations on their phone
  • Of mobile users in South Africa, aged 12+, 12% say they’d received sexually suggestive or nude images of someone they didn’t know, while 7% had received them of someone they did know
Negativity online

The report elaborated that in South Africa, 78% of children stated that they have had a negative experience while online and 61%, had a serious negative experience, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming the victim of cybercrime.  

This had a correlation to children’s activity on social networks, with those who were more active finding themselves more vulnerable to content or situations that can be tricky for them to handle. According to Norton, 74% of kids on social networks globally find themselves in unpleasant situations online, compared to 38% who stay away from social networking.

“Kids are developing their online identity at an earlier age than ever before and they need parents, teachers and other role models to help them figure out where to go, what to say, how to act and perhaps most importantly, how not to act,” explained Vanessa Van Petten, youth expert and author of Radical Parenting.

“Negative situations online can have repercussions in the real world — from bullying to money lost in scams to giving strangers personal information,” she continued.

The solution

“Parents and teachers play an enormous role in keeping kids—and themselves—safe online, and this year’s Norton Online Family Report shows a real need for further education,” said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate.

“While 79% of South African parents say they talk to their kids about online safety, 57% still secretly check their children’s online use and 37% look at their social network use behind their backs. Having an open dialogue with kids in a safe environment like at home or school can be much more effective, along with arming children with the tools they need to stay safe,” she concluded.
The Norton Online Family Report was based on a survey conducted by StrategyOne between February 6, 2011 and March 14,and entailed 19636 online respondents, comprised of 12704 adults (including 2956 parents of children aged 8 to 17), 4553 children aged 8 - 17, and 2379 teachers of students aged 8 - 17.
The survey was conducted in 24 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Poland, Switzerland and UAE.

In recent news, Symantec provided tips for keeping children safe online, launched its Norton Internet Security 2012  software and extended its Norton Everywhere initiative.



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