If you've had a talk with your children about the dangers of the Internet, you probably felt like they were listening. A new McAfee survey says otherwise. The Internet security company found that while 71 percent of parents believe they've discussed proper online behavior with their children, only 44 percent of youth ages 10 and up agree.
"Our youth are engaging in all kinds of unsafe behavior without the benefit of understanding how their actions will affect their lives,” Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at McAfee, said in a statement.
Tweens may not remember having conversations about Internet safety, but they certainly know how to cover their tracks. The study says that 58 percent of youth know how to hide their online activities from their parents, and about 25 percent clear their browser history to do just that.
The McAfee survey found that 58 percent of youth know how to hide online activities from their parents.
And just what are they hiding from Mom and Dad? McAfee found that 57 percent of youth ages 13 and up are searching for information on sexual topics. Beyond their curiosity about the birds and the bees, teens and tweens spend most of their time on social media sites.
Facebook leads the way (86 percent) followed by Twitter (59 percent) and Instagram (46 percent). Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat rounded out the top five most popular social media sites for youth. When using these sites, the majority of teens believe it is safe to post their email address and other personal information.
The survey found that parents continue to be in the dark about virtually every aspect of their child's Internet use. Most parents believe that teens are online about one or two hours a day (the reality is five or six hours), and 62 percent of parents think that their children can't get into trouble online.
In actuality, 48 percent of youth say they have viewed a website their parents would not approve of, and about 22 percent of children ages 10 and up use their cell phone to hide unsavory Internet activity from Mom and Dad. Perhaps most telling, almost 50 percent of youth would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching.
"While it is not necessarily surprising that teens are rebelling online and hiding activity from their parents, what is concerning is the kinds of behaviors they are engaging in and that it extends to tweens," Dennedy said. "The onus really is upon the parents to accelerate their digital savvy and be actively engaged on educating their kids about how to live safely online."