Parents unaware kids caught in dangerous Web, reveals study
Sources : The Economic Times
Date of Publishing:13/7/2010
THE internet isn't a safe place, especially for Indian children and the perils are manifest in a variety of ways. According to a study by Norton anti-virus company Symantec Corp, a majority of children with Net access have had unsavoury experiences online. "These could range from strangers trying to lure them on to a social networking site with mala fide intent or someone they don’t know online trying to meet them in the real world to even someone trying to get them to do things online which they know are wrong," notes the study.
There's more — children even receive sexually explicit texts from strangers and get bullied through mobile crank calls or mysterious exchanges on the PC. Even worse is that while nearly 77% of these children online have had such negative experiences, only about 50% of parents are in the know. The survey, according to Effendy Ibrahim, Internet safety advocate & consumer business lead, at Symantec Asia, is based on interviews with as many as 500 people over 18 years, and 200 children between 8 and 17 years for the Norton Online Family Report 2010.
A majority of the parents were clueless about such experiences. For instance, the report notes that only 24% of parents think someone anonymous in the guise of a friend had tried to add their child to a social networking site with mala fide intent even while 55% of children admitted this actually happened to them. Another 29% of the parents believe their children had downloaded a virus, when 40% of children reported this. Additionally while 20% of Indian children said that they responded to an email scam, 55% of them said they responded when strangers tried to hook them to a social networking site, while 18% said that someone did try to get them to do something online that they thought was wrong.
"About 24% of the kids interviewed said they have done something online that they later regretted. As the line between physical and digital life blurs, children are vulnerable to falling prey to criminals who suggest offline meetings or inappropriate interaction. It is evident that 'stranger danger' online is as real as it is in the physical world, especially for children since they are not always aware of the consequences," says Mr Ibrahim. The good news, however, is that parents are now aware of the amount of time spent by kids online. But do not know about all the things their wards do on the Internet. For instance, one potentially dangerous activity that 70% of Indian children engage in, is downloading music and videos; only 49% of parents are aware of this.
"While parents are generally aware of the activities their children participate in, they underestimate the extent to they can download games, music and videos, activities in which kids may be exposed to inappropriate content and encouraged to disclose personal details," said the Symantec official.
Although a majority of Indian parents say they have house rules in place in so far as their child’s use of the Internet, only 34% have actually set parental controls on their computer.
The Symantec report also found that 66% of the kids don’t watch out for too good to be true offers, 56% don’t always distrust online offers at first glance and 55% are not wary of too many popups. "Cyber criminals are smart, stealthy and sophisticated. Today’s attacks are aimed at stealing your money, your identity and your reputation. Since kids are often not aware of the dangers, they end up falling prey to "attractive" offers from cyber criminals and reveal personal information or download malware inadvertently.
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