By 9 February 2011 | Categories: news


Microsoft recently completed an MSN survey which examines the attitudes and behaviours of both parents and children (aged between 14 and 18) around online safety. 
The results show that nearly half (44%) of children have lied about their age while online. A whopping 75% have been contacted by a stranger, with over a third (37%) of those who had been contacted responding out of curiosity. More worrying is that only a mere 4% informed someone older whom they trusted (like a parent or teacher) about it.
Around 39% of children view websites or play online gaming titles that their parents would more than likely deem inappropriate, with two-thirds (67%) clearing out their browser history in order to make sure that their parents can’t review their online activity. 
Despite these finding the survey suggests that parents are generally aware of the potential online dangers and are talking to their children about these issues. The majority of parents believe that discussing online safety is just as important as talking to their children about sex.
Even so, Nazeer Suliman, consumer and online lead at Microsoft South Africa is of the opinion that parents aren’t always consistent and often trust their tech-savvy children to behave responsibly online without further intervention from the parents themselves.
While 87% of parents have spoken to their children about online safety, only a third (36%) use online parental controls or filtering software, with just over a quarter (26%) doing nothing to limit or control their children’s internet use at home.
The results also show that while parents are talking to their kids about these issues, they aren’t always following up to see if their kids are implementing any safety measures at all. This is evident in the fact that 44% aren’t certain about whether their children are restricting access to their social media sites. More than one-third of parents (36%) who responded don’t monitor their children’s online activities at all, leaving them open to various potential dangers.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD, World Wide Worx stated that these findings further served to underpin his company’s own research, which illustrated that parents tend to be oblivious as to what their children are doing online.
“In many cases, the parents are far less tech-savvy than their children, and so are incapable of monitoring or responding to what their children are doing online,” explains Goldstuck. “Our advice has always been that parents must be actively involved in their children’s online lives, and we support the call for them to use the technology tools available.”
“Children may be highly skilled at using the Internet and cellphone features, but they don’t know how to deal with the human issues that arise in many situations, and this is where open lines of communication with their parents will prove their value,” he concluded.
The survey was conducted last month across 11 countries, including South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Greece as well as Egypt, and was presented as part of Safer Internet Day on 8 February.


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