Norton online family report reveals new insights into children’s internet use

The latest edition of the Norton Online Family Report sheds new light on the realities and risks of growing up in the digital age.

November 21, 2011

 South African Findings Unveiled in Norton Study

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. The report shows that following clearly stated house rules for proper Internet behavior can make a significant impact in averting negative online experiences.
 
In South Africa, 78 percent of kids said that they have had a negative experience while online and 61 percent, however, have had a serious negative experience, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming the victim of cybercrime. 
 
The report also shows that kids across the world who are active on social networks open up more doors for content or situations that can be tricky for them to handle: globally, 74 percent of kids on social networks find themselves in unpleasant situations online, compared to 38 percent who stay away from social networking.
 
Parents are setting ground rules, for online use, which helps kids have a more positive experience. The Norton Online Family Report shows that in South Africa, for those households where rules exist, while the “good kids” who follow the rules stay relatively safe with 68 percent having had a negative experience online, the percentage increases to a staggering 95 percent 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,” “and 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.”
 
Teachers at Risk of Cyberbaiting
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. In South Africa, 30 percent of teachers have personally experienced or knows another teacher who has experienced this phenomenon.
 
Perhaps because of cyberbaiting, 69 percent of South African teachers say being friends with students on social networks exposes them to risks. Still, 31 percent continue to “friend” their students. Only 55 percent, however, say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media. Eighty-seven percent of teachers call for more online safety education in schools, a position supported by 80 percent of parents.
 
Raiding Mom’s Digital Purse
Globally, 23 percent of parents who let their kids use their debit or credit card to shop online say their kids have overspent. Thirty percent 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 percent) who let their child 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. In South Africa, 90 percent of parents whose children have been the victim of cybercrime have also been a victim themselves — an increase from the average of 84 percent among South African online adults. (Norton Cybercrime Report, 2011)
 
“Parents and teachers play an enormous role in keeping kids—and themselves—safe online, and this year’s Norton Online Family Report shows a real need for further education,” said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “While 79 percent of South African parents say they talk to their kids about online safety, 57 percent still secretly check their children’s online use and 37 percent look at their social network use behind their backs. Having an open dialogue with kids in a safe environment like at home or school can be much more effective, along with arming children with the tools they need to stay safe.”
 
The research into children’s online activities by the world’s largest internet security firm also uncovered:

  • Only 5 percent of parents in South Africa, say they have no idea what their children do online, but 10 percent of children in South Africa think their parents have no idea about their online activities
  • 34 percent of South African kids say they sometimes stop what they are doing online if they know their parents are watching
  • 72 percent of South African parents have house rules about how much time their kids can spend online and only 49 percent have set parental controls on the family computer
  • 25 percent of kids in South Africa have experienced a negative situation on their mobile phone, 10 percent had been bullied by mobile phone and 5 percent said they had experienced other cybercrime/negative situations on their phone
  • Of mobile users in South Africa, aged 12+, 12 percent say they’d received sexually suggestive or nude images of someone they didn’t know and 7 percent had received them of someone they did know

For more tips on how to keep your kids and yourself safe online, please visit: www.norton.com/familyresources. For more findings from the Norton Online Family Report globally and by country, please visit: www.norton.com/cybercrimereport.