MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. However, it's not all bad news: the report shows that following clearly stated house rules for proper Internet behavior can make a significant impact in averting negative online experiences.
Overall, almost 62 percent of kids across the world said that they have had a negative experience while online. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%), however, have had a serious negative experience online, such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming the victim of cybercrime. The report also shows that kids who are active on social networks open up more doors for content or situations that can be tricky for them to handle: 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, however, for online use, which helps kids have a more positive experience. The Norton Online Family Report shows that 77 percent of parents have rules for how their kids may use the Internet. For those households where rules exist, while the "good kids" who follow the rules stay relatively safe with 52 percent having had a negative experience online, the percentage increases to 82 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. One in five teachers has personally experienced or knows another teacher who has experienced this phenomenon.
Perhaps because of cyberbaiting, 67 percent of teachers say being friends with students on social networks exposes them to risks. Still, 34 percent continue to "friend" their students. Only 51 percent, however, say their school has a code of conduct for how teachers and students communicate with each other through social media. Eighty percent of teachers call for more online safety education in schools, a position supported by 70 percent of parents.
Raiding Mom's Digital Purse
Twenty-three 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. Eighty-seven percent of parents whose children have been the victim of cybercrime have also been a victim themselves—a steep increase from the global average of 69 percent among online adults across the world. (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 63 percent of parents say they talk to their kids about online safety, one-third (34%) still secretly check their children's online use and a quarter 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."
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About the Norton Online Family Report methodology
Between February 6, 2011 and March 14, 2011 StrategyOne conducted 19,636 online survey among 12,704 adults (including 2956 parents of children aged 8-7), 4553 children aged 8-17, and 2379 teachers of students aged 8-17.
The survey was conducted in 24 countries (14 tracking countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States; 10 new countries: Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Poland, Switzerland and UAE). The global data has been weighted to ensure all countries have equal representation. Adults to n500 (n100 parents), children to n200, teachers to n100.
The margin of error for the total sample of adults (n=12,704) is +/- 0.87% at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error for the total sample of parents, defined as parents with children aged 8-17 who spend 1+ hour online per month (n=2,956) is +/- 1.8% at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error for the total sample of children (n=4,553) is +/- 1.45% at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error for the total sample of teachers (n=2,379) is +/- 2.0% at the 95% level of confidence.