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Is Your Teen Engaged in Risky Behavior Online?


There are a lot of things teenagers do that parents aren’t aware of, but many more now with the level of access they have to the Internet and social networks. There’s a world of information available to them, and with curious teenagers who are wired at that age to break free and establish their own autonomy, there are consequences online that need to be considered. Teens, and parents alike, can be blissfully unaware of the potential risks they face with every click. And many are taking these risks, according to the recent 2011 Parent-Teen Internet Safety Report by GFI Software.

Parents and teens seem to have extended their “cat-and-mouse” game of protector and protected from the offline world to the online one. The study states, “Today, parents not only have to be concerned about the safety of their teens in the physical world; they also have to be concerned about the dangers their teens face in cyberspace. In many ways, controlling teen behavior on the Internet is a far more daunting challenge than controlling it in the physical world.”

After polling more than 1,000 parents and teens, GFI found the following:

  • 24% of teens admit to visiting a Web site intended for adults. 31% of boys admit they’ve visited adult sites, and 13% say they do so “often” or “sometimes”.
  • 53% of teens who have visited an adult Web site also say they lied about their age to get in.
  • 83% of teens with Facebook accounts indicate they understand how to use privacy settings on the social network, so some may hide content from their parents.
  • 34% of teens say they have created online accounts that their parents do not know about.
  • Among teens who are not “friends” with their parents on Facebook, one third admit to posting content on their Facebook “wall” that they would not want their parents to see.
  • Nearly one third (29%) of teens have been contacted online by a stranger, and 23% of those say they have responded in some way.
  • 74% of teens indicate that most of their peers do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about. 

"Given the potential ramifications of improper Internet use today, it would seem to merit at least the same degree of educational vigilance as other lifestyle risk categories like sex, drugs and alcohol," the report said.

There are lots of things that teens do that they don’t want their parents to know about – it’s all part of growing up. But when it comes to online behaviors, it’s more important than ever for parents to learn about the risks themselves so that they can be better prepared to protect their kids online.




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