February 7th is international Safer Internet Day and it focuses mainly on safe internet use among children and young people.
Just very recently ESET Ireland has ordered a survey to show if children are supervised online. The results are shocking as they reveal that up to 73% of children are left entirely unsupervised online.
We asked if children of different age groups (ranging from 6 to 16) were left unsupervised online, and it turns out parents seem to supervise less and less as the children age. So the youngest group of 6-7 years of age were left unsupervised in 27% of the cases, then supervision drops incrementally to 73% being unsupervised in the 16 years age group. The whole survey is available here.
It is hard to imagine that a third of 6-7 year olds receive absolutely no supervision from their parents while online, when it has also been brought forward by other researchers, that just over one in ten will accept any friend request on social media, and nearly half of them have friends they have never met.
At ESET we believe it a parent’s job to help younger children to develop on-line life skills:
- Know (and discuss) the dangers. I’d suggest that with younger children, learning about safety issues could be a family project where parents and children could learn from each other.
- Issues such as piracy aren’t just moral issues (important though moral issues are): they have dangerous practical implications too, with viruses and other malware usually attached to pirated files.
- The web (and especially social media sites) are about social interaction with people you or your children may never have met. The idea of Facebook as a paedophile’s playground may be overstated, but it’s not fiction.
- Think about installing Parental Control software which lets you monitor and limit computer use, as well as block many categories of offending websites and programs.
For more information on the issue ESET researcher David Harley and his colleague Eddy Willems have prepared a white paper, based on some research data they gathered in the UK and Belgium about student knowledge of and attitude towards security issues: Teach Your Children Well – ICT Security and the Younger Generation.