The growing parent-teen digital divide in India

The growing parent-teen digital divide in India

Summary: India's urban teenagers are growing up as digital natives and are active on social networks as early as 13 years old, but a McAfee survey suggests they are not getting the right parental assistance.

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McAfee's survey, "Secret Lives of Teens", threw up some interesting findings. It showed that 1 in every 4 teens has been a victim of cruel behavior online. The survey found all respondents to have been active on social networks since the age of 13.

According to the survey, there is also an evident discrepancy between parental perception and reality regarding the online activities of Indian teens. The survey was conducted in seven Indian cities--Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Chennai--comprising a sample size of 757 teenagers and 750 parents.

"While parental concerns prevail, teens do end up sharing more dangerous information online, contrary to their parents' belief," the survey said.  In fact, it found 35 percent of the teens surveyed to be willingly accessing porn or nudity online.

This divide is attributed to the fact that Indian teens are growing up as 'digital natives', with increasingly active online lives. Most teens open a social networking account at the age of 13 and 86 percent of their online time is spent on Facebook, followed by 54 percent on Twitter.

Teens today acquire gadgets early in life--45 percent of teenagers are using their smartphones for Internet access. Essentially, teens do not get the right parental assistance, the survey said. Here are some other findings fleshing out the parent-children divide:

  • 70 percent of the surveyed teens believe they shouldn't share their home address online but 40 percent of them still do. Correspondingly, only 21 percent of the polled parents believe teens would have actually done so.
  • Although 31 percent of the teens have met their online acquaintances in real life, only 17 percent of parents are aware of this.
  • 20 percent of the teenagers access porn or nudity online willingly several times a day but 32 percent parents think teens willingly access it only a few times a year.
  • 38 percent of teens have witnessed cruel or mean behavior online whereas only 16 percent parents are aware of this.
  • Interestingly, 70 percent of parents completely trust their teens to tell them everything they do online whereas 58 percent of teens surveyed strongly believe they know how to hide their online activities from their parents. 

Topics: Security, Smartphones, Social Enterprise

Swati Prasad

About Swati Prasad

Swati Prasad is a New Delhi-based freelance journalist who spent much of the mid-1990s and 2000s covering brick-and-mortar industries for some of India's leading publications. Seven years back when she took to freelancing, India was at the peak of its "outsourcing hub" glory and the world of Indian IT, telecom and Internet fascinated her. A self-proclaimed technophobic, Swati loves to report on anything that's remotely alien to her--be it cloud computing, telecom, BPOs, social media, e-government or software and hardware, and also how high-tech sectors impact the Indian economy.

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