Parents don't act on cyber-safety fears

Parents don't act on cyber-safety fears

Summary: Most Australian parents are concerned about the safety of their children online. But new research shows that parents don't back up their concerns with meaningful actions, and that in any event they might well be concerned about the wrong risks.

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Most Australian parents are concerned about the safety of their children online. But new research shows that parents don't back up their concerns with meaningful actions, and that in any event they might well be concerned about the wrong risks.

Research by "For Safety's Sake" (PDF) for Microsoft Australia found that while 64 per cent of parents were concerned about cyber-safety, 65 per cent don't use any parental control software and 62 per cent allow their kids to access the internet unsupervised.

Parents perceive their kids to be more at risk accessing the internet from friends' homes than their own, and rate the risk from online predators as being more dangerous than exposure to pornography. In turn that's seen as more dangerous than bullying, which is seen as more dangerous than identity theft.

Few parents knew who their children's friends were online.

In Patch Monday this week, Stilgherrian discusses the research results with Microsoft's chief security advisor in Australia, Stuart Strathdee, as well as with child protection expert Karen Flanagan from Save the Children Australia. Both point out that the risks are not as they seem, and provide some practical tips.

Plus we have the usual idiosyncratic look at the week's IT news headlines.

To leave an audio comments for Patch Monday — and we're particularly interested in hearing parents' thoughts on cyber-saftey — Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Topics: Censorship, Microsoft

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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5 comments
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  • This is a serious problem. And it's becoming all-too-common these days, people don't want to have to think for themselves and this is where you get idiotic, unworkable responses from the government like their "mandatory internet filter". It makes parents feel good because they can think their children are "safe" without having to do anything themselves.

    People need to start taking some more personal responsibility.
    Dean Harding
  • Useless survey. There is no indication of the age distribution of the children involved, other than they are under 18.
    richard41
  • Problem is that "kids" probably know more about that malware crap than the parents.
    cryptw
  • Just wanted to say that I have found your site very interesting and the article about parents especially relevant as I am an educator. I find parents feel quite alienated by their children, particularly if they are teenagers and intimidated by the complexity of social media. Our School has recently built a site for our parents who find that they are several steps behind their children and teens when it comes to cybersafety,www.iCyberSafe.com and thought I'd share it with you. Anyone can access it. I find your site very helpful and just wanted to thank you for it.

    www.iCyberSafe.com

    Kind Regards, Renata Rowe( Deputy Head of Campus, Ivanhoe Grammar School Plenty
    Renata Rowe
  • Nice article, I think parents still have some way to go in terms of understanding how to best monitor and protect children online, especially with these new social-media type games that are proliferating for the under-10s such as club penguin and minecraft. This further reading may be of interest:
    http://www.internetsecuritydb.com/2011/06/rise-and-rise-of-childrens-online.html
    RobertC_67