The latest edition of the Norton Online Family Report sheds new light on the realities and risks of growing up in the digital age. This year’s report identifies the new issue of “cyberbaiting,” a growing phenomenon where kids taunt their teachers, then capture the distressed reactions via cell phone videos. In addition, the report reveals a surprisingly high number of kids taking liberties with their parents’ credit cards for shopping online. However, it’s not all bad news: the report shows that following clearly stated house rules for proper Internet behavior can make a significant impact in averting negative online experiences.
Overall, almost 62 per cent of kids across the world said that they have had a negative experience while online. Nearly four in 10 (39 per cent), however, have had a serious negative experience online, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming the victim of cybercrime. The report also shows that kids who are active on social networks open up more doors for content or situations that can be tricky for them to handle: 74 per cent of kids on social networks find themselves in unpleasant situations online, compared to 38 per cent who stay away from social networking.
Parents are setting ground rules, however, for online use, which helps kids have a more positive experience. The Norton Online Family Report shows that 77 per cent of parents have rules for how their kids may use the Internet. For those households where rules exist, while the “good kids” who follow the rules stay relatively safe with 52 per cent having had a negative experience online, the percentage increases to 82 per cent among rule-breakers.
“Kids are developing their online identity at an earlier age than ever before,” said Vanessa Van Petten, youthologist and author of “Radical Parenting. “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. Negative situations online can have repercussions in the real world—from bullying to money lost in scams to giving strangers personal information.”
One of the more shocking examples of using social networks for bad behavior is cyberbaiting, where students first irritate 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. One in five teachers has personally experienced or knows another teacher who has experienced this phenomenon.
Perhaps because of cyberbaiting, 67 per cent of teachers say being friends with students on social networks exposes them to risks. Still, 34 per cent continue to “friend” their students. Only 51 per cent, however, say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media. Eighty per cent of teachers call for more online safety education in schools, a position supported by 70 per cent of parents.
Twenty-three per cent of parents who let their kids use their debit or credit card to shop online say their kids have overspent. Thirty per cent of parents, however, say that their child has used their debit or credit card to shop online without consent. And more than half of parents (53 per cent) who let their kids shop online using their online store account reported that their child has used it without permission.
But saving money isn’t the only reason to set clear guidelines about online shopping and safe Internet behaviors. Eighty-seven percent of parents whose children have been the victim of cybercrime have also been a victim themselves—a steep increase from the global average of 69 per cent among online adults across the world. (Norton Cybercrime Report, 2011)
In Canada: The Breakdown
- 69 per cent of Canadian adults surveyed have fallen victim to cybercrime and 37 per cent of children reported being victims as well
- 68 per cent of children in Canada said that they have had a negative experience online
- 88 per cent of teachers reported that being friends with students on social networks exposes them to online risks
- Only six per cent of Canadian teachers are friends with students on social networks, compared to 34 per cent globally
- Eight per cent of teachers have personally experienced or know another teacher who has been cyberbaited
- 71 per cent of teachers call for more online safety education in schools, a position supported by 68 per cent of parents
- Only five per cent of parents in Canada say they have no idea what their children do online, but 17 per cent of children in Canada think their parents are clueless and have no idea about their online activities
- 32 per cent of parents suspect their child changes the way they act online when parents are watching them – and 41 per cent of children said they sometimes stop what they are doing online if they know their parents are watching
“Teachers spend almost a third of the day with our children, and play an integral role in helping parents understand children’s behaviours, so it was really important for us to gauge their thoughts on cyber safety, and their perceptions of children’s online behaviours ,” said Lynn Hargrove, director of Consumer Solutions for Symantec Canada. “This report helps paint a picture of what’s really happening online, so that we can recognize and address the shortcomings to keep our children safe from potential online dangers. At Norton, we believe that education is a huge part of prevention. We’ll continue to do our part and make resources available to educate children, teachers and parents so that they can stay informed about the latest cyber dangers.”