McAfee, Inc. Survey Reveals That Despite Recent Headlines, Teens Still Share Alarming Amounts of Personal Information With Strangers Online; Cyberbullying Continues to Affect Teens

'Secret Life of Teens' Survey Reveals that Half of Online Teens Have Shared Personal Information with Strangers

Jun 23, 2010, 12:39 ET from Harris Interactive

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- McAfee, Inc. (NYSE: MFE), the world's largest dedicated security company, commissioned and today released "The Secret Life of Teens," a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 4-May 17, 2010. The study surveyed 955 U.S. 13-17 year olds (including 593 teens ages 13-15 and 362 teens aged 16-17) and reveals the online behavior of American teens and areas of concern for parents. Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and other key variables.

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"Keeping kids safe no longer only means teaching them about the dangers of alcohol or how to deal with a school bully," said Tracy Mooney, mother of three and McAfee Chief Cyber Security Mom. "This report is a wake-up call to the real dangers our teens face when they make themselves vulnerable online. As a mom, it worries me that kids aren't practicing safe 'street smarts' when they're online."

Teens Talk to Strangers, Give up Personal Information

Harris Interactive® conducted an online study on behalf of McAfee, and revealed that despite news headlines, teens are providing more information than they should with strangers:

  • 69 percent of 13-17 year olds have updated their status on social networking sites to include their physical location
  • 51 percent of teens say they have given out personal information online to someone they don't know in the offline world
    • 43 percent have shared their first name
    • 24 percent have shared their email address
    • 18 percent have shared a personal photo of themselves
    • 12 percent have shared their cell phone number
  • 28 percent of teens chat with people they don't know in the offline world
    • Girls are more likely than boys to chat with people online that they don't know in the offline world, (32 percent vs. 24 percent), and 13-15 year old girls (16 percent) are more likely than boys the same age (7 percent) to have given a description of what they look like.

"Kids know not to talk to strangers – it's one of the first lessons you teach them. But online, there's a sense of trust and anonymity, so kids let their guard down," said Mooney. "Kids would never hand out their name and address to a stranger in the real world, so it's alarming to see how many kids do that very thing online."

Despite Tragedies, Cyberbullying Remains; One in Five Teens Don't Know What to Do if Cyberbullied

Cyberbullying has made media headlines several times this year, with tales of teens and tweens harassing each other online– with tragic consequences. One in three teens knows someone who has had mean or hurtful information posted about them online – like sending anonymous emails, spreading rumors online, forwarding private information without someone's permission or purposely posting mean or hurtful information about someone online.

  • 14 percent of 13-17 year olds admit to having engaged in some form of cyberbullying behavior
  • 22 percent say they wouldn't know what to do if they were cyberbullied

Teens Access the Web Away From Home More than Ever Before

Teens have more options to get online than ever before. "It's almost impossible to keep up with how my kids get online," continued Mooney. "It's not like keeping the home computer in the living room is the answer anymore – you have to educate your kids to be safe while they're accessing the Web from their friends' houses, or on their phone – away from my supervision."

  • 87 percent of teens go online somewhere other than at home
  • 54 percent access from their friends' or relatives' houses
  • 30 percent of teens access the Web through a phone and 21 percent through a video game system
  • 23 percent of kids go online anywhere with an open Wi-Fi signal

Teens Hide What They're Doing Online

Approximately two in five teens say they don't tell their parents what they do while they are online (42 percent) and that they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching (36 percent). 55 percent of 13-17 year olds admit that they have done something to hide what they do online from their parents:

  • 38 percent of teens have closed or minimize the browser when their parents enter the room
  • 32 percent of teens have cleared the browser history when they are done using the computer

One in Four Kids to Blame for Infected Family PC

While most teens use the Internet for research and communicating with friends, three in five (62 percent) of teens also typically view or download some kind of media online – which can lead to dangerous downloads and other online threats that put the family computer at risk.

  • One in six (16 percent) 16-17 year old boys admit they have downloaded x-rated content
  • Nearly half of teens (46 percent) have downloaded music or videos from a free service, which is much more likely to infect the family PC with worms, viruses, ad-ware, spyware, or backdoors that allow people on the Internet to access the computer
  • More than a quarter of teens (27 percent) report they have accidentally allowed a virus, spyware, or other software to infect the family computer

Mooney continues, "Like me, most parents think they have a handle on what kind of online content their children are exploring. This report makes it clear that we need to be much more involved with helping our kids make the right decisions online. Education is key."

For information about family Internet safety solutions and advice, please visit

The entire 2010 Secret Life of Teens report can be viewed at You can also visit for additional information.

About McAfee, Inc.

McAfee, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California, is the world's largest dedicated security technology company. McAfee is committed to relentlessly tackling the world's toughest security challenges. The company delivers proactive and proven solutions and services that help secure systems and networks around the world, allowing users to safely connect to the Internet, browse and shop the web more securely. Backed by an award-winning research team, McAfee creates innovative products that empower home users, businesses, the public sector and service providers by enabling them to prove compliance with regulations, protect data, prevent disruptions, identify vulnerabilities, and continuously monitor and improve their security.

Note: McAfee is a registered trademark or trademark of McAfee, Inc., or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. ©2010 McAfee, Inc. All rights reserved.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries and serves clients in over 215 countries and territories. For more information, please visit

For more information:

Kim Eichorn

McAfee, Inc.

(408) 346-3606

Libby Kearney

Red Consultancy

(415) 618-8813

SOURCE Harris Interactive