Are children the weakest link in family’s online security?

Cyber bullying, online predators, privacy and family vulnerability are some of the biggest issues that parents are grappling with, especially in India.

Written by Sanghamitra Mazumdar | Updated: March 11, 2016 6:56 am
child According to the report, one in three Indian parents believes their child will be a victim of online bullying.

With internet penetration increasing, the initiation age for the ‘connected’ generation is going down in India. A recent survey has estimated that India will see nearly 100 million children going online by 2017. Knowing that any effort to avoid such an eventuality in this day and age will be an exercise in futility, and at a time when cyber criminals are getting sophisticated by the day, worried parents find it difficult to save their children from the unseen dangers lurking around the corners of the cyberspace.

Norton by Symantec has come out with the findings from its first Norton Cyber Security Insights Report — Family Edition, which may help understand the impact of cyber crime on children and how parents react to it. It identifies cyber bullying, online predators, privacy and family vulnerability as some of the biggest issues that parents are grappling with. As the impact of cyber crime takes over personal lives, the survey finds, most parents believe children are the weakest link in the family’s online security.

According to the report, one in three Indian parents believes their child will be a victim of online bullying. The figure is considerably higher than the global average of 23 per cent. About one in two parents believes their children are safer from bullies on a playground than online. And, the survey finds, Indian parents are 20 per cent more likely to limit their child’s online activities.

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The online survey covered 17,125 device users aged above 18, and who are parents, across 17 countries. In India, the sample size was 1,000.

The report says 57 per cent of Indian parents worry about children making the whole family vulnerable through their online activities, and an equal number of them believe their child will be lured into meeting a stranger in the outside world. More than half also worry their children will be lured into illegal activities, 54 per cent parents worry their child will give away too much personal information to strangers, and 51 per cent fear what their children post today will come back to haunt them in the future. Downloading a virus is the most common online crime (30 per cent) that parents report their children are experiencing in India.

trends

“In the last year, Norton has seen the online safety awareness levels of Indian parents increase rapidly as technology firmly cements itself in the family home,” says Ritesh Chopra, country manager, India, Norton by Symantec.

Nearly all parents surveyed (92 per cent) worry how their children’s actions will have repercussions on the family. As a result, more than half (55 per cent) limit the amount of information they post about their children on social networks; 53 per cent limit the amount of information their children can post on their social profiles; and more than one in two limit access to certain websites. While one in two parents only allows internet access with parental supervision, 49 per cent surveyed ensure computer is used in common areas at home. However, despite these measures, over one in three Indians knows someone with a child whose actions have compromised their online security.

When it comes to taking action, Indians are ahead of their global counterparts. Of the total parents surveyed, millennial parents (75 per cent) and fathers (67 per cent) are more likely to report their child as a victim.

Tips for parents

Open dialogue: Set aside time to discuss appropriate online behaviour and create age-appropriate “house rules” about how computers, smart phones and gaming systems are used.

Educate children: Spend some time telling children regularly about the dangers of the internet and create awareness around issues such as sexting, cyberbullying, online predators and privacy. Make sure children are not sharing private information online.

Catch up: You may need to be one step ahead of your children to be able to understand their online behaviour. In case you think you can’t quite follow them, don’t hesitate to educate yourself. Know the age restrictions on different social networking sites and use the guidelines for the networks they use.

Explore technology: Consider free parental control technologies available on the web that help to set and enforce the ground rules and can limit the sites that can be accessed and the type of information that can be shared online.