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June 22 , 2010

Kids worldwide speak out on cyber safety

Not all fun and games online, Norton reports

Kids around the globe are growing up in an online world, learning to navigate not just the Web, but new rules, emotions and unfortunately, some negative experiences. The Norton Online Family Report released last week, is a good reminder for parents to plug in to their kids' online lives, if they're not already - especially with kids spending an average of 10 percent more time online per month than last year. Over the past three years, Norton has examined the gaps between parents and kids with respect to their online beliefs and behaviors. With this year's report, Norton also looked at the emotional impact of online experiences on kids and their online codes of conduct.

Norton went straight to the source, surveying 2,800 kids and more than 7,000 adults in 14 countries about their online lives and experiences. The resulting study, the Norton Online Family Report, was conducted by research company StrategyOne and examines kids' actual online experiences compared with parents' assumptions - with some surprising results.

According to NetFamilyNews.org Editor and ConnectSafely.org Co-Director Anne Collier, who collaborated with Norton on the study: "This report provides a rare glimpse into the online lives of young people in many countries - in their own words. Not only does it send a clear message that the online safety and security issues around parenting are universal, it offers insights and information that can empower parents worldwide to help kids use the Internet safely and keep family communication about technology open and ongoing - the number-one Net-safety best practice at home, school, and everywhere."

One Gap Closed

In 2008(iv), Norton found that kids reported spending nearly 10 times as much time online as parents realized. In 2009, the gap shrunk to kids reporting being online twice as much as parents realized. This year, kids and parents are fully in sync about the about of time kids spend online - closing one major gap.

Parents Aren't Clued In

However, only 45 percent of parents realize their kids are having negative experiences. While parents are generally aware of the activities kids participate in online, they underestimate the extent to which kids download music and videos, activities in which kids may be exposed to inappropriate content and encouraged to disclose personal details.

Kids' Emotions

Kids are feeling the powerful emotional impact of negative online experiences. Children are most likely to feel angry (39 percent), upset (36 percent), afraid (34 percent) and fearful/worried (34 percent) as a result of such an incident. One-fifth of kids worldwide regret something they've done online. Further, kids feel some personal responsibility for these negative experiences, especially downloading a virus or being scammed.

The Good News

Kids actually want more parental involvement in their online lives. In addition to relying on their parents if something bad happened online, nearly nine in 10 report they follow family rules for Internet use. In addition, most kids say they have online manners: nearly seven in 10 say they don't bully and aren't mean to others online, over six in 10 say they don't harass or stalk others online, and nearly six in 10 refrain from passing on embarrassing photos or posts about others. More than half wouldn't do or say anything online that they wouldn't do or say off-line.

New Tips for Parents

While kids are aware of many common sense rules for staying safe online, the old rules are not enough to keep up with the fast-changing online world. In addition to talking to kids, keeping security software up to date and using tools specifically designed for kids' safety, parents can improve kids' online experiences with new tips that combine technology and communication.

- Prepare your kids for good or bad experiences online - don't wait until after something happens.

- Highlight the importance of thinking before clicking and downloading.

- Use a search advisor to help identify if a website is safe versus unsafe.

- Let your kids know that what happens to them online is a shared responsibility - children cannot take all of the responsibility for what happens to them online.

Key Canadian Findings from Report

- Although the majority of Canadian parents say they have house rules in place surrounding their child's use of the Internet (69 per cent), only 42 per cent have actually set parental controls on their family computer.

- Only 49 per cent of parents in Canada think their child has experienced a negative online situation, while 61 per cent of Canadian children reported that they have.

- Four most common negative incidents include: someone I didn't know tried to add me as a friend on a social networking site (45 per cent), I downloaded a virus to my own or family computer (30 per cent), and I have seen violent or nude images online (24 per cent).

- Canadian kids are most likely to feel upset (50 per cent), angry (45 per cent), or afraid (36 per cent) following a negative online situation.

- 40 per cent of Canadian children report that they are more careful about their online activities than their parents.

- 83 per cent of Canadian children say they follow their family's rules for Internet use.

- Kids' own rules/etiquette for being online revolve around not bullying or being mean to others online (80 per cent), telling a parent/teacher/guardian if they are being bullied or harassed online (77 per cent), and telling a parent/teacher/guardian if they suspect someone else is being bullied or harassed online (72 per cent).

- 80 per cent of Canadian parents have spoken to their child about safe online habits; 52 per cent of parents have rules about how much kids may spend online; 39 per cent check their child's social network site.

- 46 per cent of Canadian children say they're allowed to download computer games on their own, without supervision.

- Canadian kids are not following some common sense rules: 59 per cent are not using complex passwords and changing them regularly, 58 per cent are not wary of pop-up banner ads, and 53 percent are trusting online offers at first glance.

- Canadian children see their parents as the first point of call when something bad happens to them online.

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