Today, McAfee released findings from the company's 2012 Teen Internet Behavior study (Adobe PDF). The study investigated the online habits, behaviors, interests, and lifestyles of teens and documented the risky online behaviors of this group. Perhaps more importantly, not only do teens hide their risky online behaviors from their parents, but parents are largely unaware.
The study included 2,017 online interviews in the U.S. among teens ages 13-17 and parents of teens ages 13-17. Interviews included an even mix by age and gender, with 15% Hispanic and 15% African American respondents. The interviews, conducted May 4th through May 29th, included 1,004 teens and 1,013 parents of teens. Findings from the study:
"Many teens are accessing inappropriate online content, despite 73.5% of parents whom trust their teens to not access age-inappropriate content online. Specifically 43% of teens have accessed simulated violence online, 36% have access sexual topics online, and 32% have accessed nude content or pornography online... 15% of teens have hacked a social network account, 30.7% access pirated movies and music, and 8.7% have hacked someone's email online... Teens don't think online friends are dangerous strangers. 12% of teens reported meeting someone offline that they only knew through online interactions... Teens don't just witness cruel behavior, they join in. Teens have felt social pressure to participate in cyberbullying, with 9.5% of teens actually bullying, and 24.9% posting mean comments... 93% of teens who have witnessed cruel behavior online say that majority of cruel online behavior took place on Facebook..."
There are clear consequences resulting from these risky online behaviors:
"... over half of teens with a social network account have already experienced negative consequences as a result of being on a social network account, such as arguing with friends (35.4%), getting into trouble at home or school (25.2%), ending friendships (20%), fearing for their safety (6.8%), and physical fights (4.5%)."
The report state that 29% of parents are overwhelmed by technology, and just hope for the best. While many parents believe that their teens honestly tell them what they do online:
"... teens deceiving their parents are on the rise, as over 70% of teens have found ways to avoid parental monitoring, compared to 2010, where 45% of teens have hidden their online behavior from a parent."
The study documented ten ways teens deceive their parents about their online behavior:
- Clear the browser history after an online session (53%)
- Close/minimize browser when a parent walks nearby (46%)
- Hide or delete instant messages (IMs) or videos (34%)
- Lie or omit details about online activities (23%)
- Use a computer their parents don't check (23%)
- Use an internet-enabled mobile device (21%)
- Use privacy settings to make certain content viewable only by friends (20%)
- Use private browsing modes (20%)
- Create private email address unknown to parents (15%)
- Create duplicate/fake social network profiles (9%)
Download the McAfee study (Adobe PDF).