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Monday, 22 August 2011 13:42

Aussie parents failing the tech test


Australia's parents are struggling to keep their kids safe online due to a lack of tech knowledge, according to new research.

Telstra's inaugural Cyber-Safety Indicator revealed that 34 per cent of parents say their kids' technology skills far exceed theirs, and almost 90 per cent of young people use the internet once or more a day.

Darren Kane, Telstra's Internet Trust and Safety Officer said 'the research shows that a gap in technology skills is leading parents to believe that they are less capable of understanding how their kids might be exposing themselves to online risks such as cyber-bullying and identity theft.'

'However it's important for parents to remember that they don't need to be tech experts to keep their kids safe online. Parents should approach their child's development in the online world as they would in the offline world - by teaching them about right and wrong behaviours. It takes a combination of social and technical skills to be safe online.'

The Telstra Cyber-Safety Indicator showed:
'¢    Young people are avid internet users: 87 per cent of young people use the internet once or more a day with 45 per cent of kids spending three hours or more each week on social networking sites.
'¢    Sexting is a concern: 62 per cent of parents are worried about their children sexting (the sending of sexual messages, photos or videos using a mobile).
'¢    Parents don't feel they see all technology use: Half of parents say their kid's technology use frequently happens 'under the radar' making it hard to keep tabs on.
'¢    A watchful eye on internet use: Half of parents keep the home PC in a family area where internet use can be easily discussed and 27 per cent say their child's PC is located in their bedroom.
'¢    Mixed views on social networking: 36 per cent of parents trust their child's use of social networking sites, while a quarter admit to worrying about them posting personal information online and 15 per cent worry about who their children talk to and what they talk about.
'¢    Young people view inappropriate content: One in five parents have found their child accessing inappropriate material online. The research also found that a third of parents have installed software to help restrict web browsing.
'¢    Cyberbullying still happens: 12 per cent of parents say their child has been bullied or harassed online.

'Encouragingly the research found Australian parents are doing many things well when it comes to developing their kid's cyber-safety skills. Eight in ten parents are setting rules to guide their child's use of technology while almost half are helping their kids adjust their default social network privacy settings to ensure personal details are protected,' Darren said.

The research also found:
'¢    Top online concerns: Topping the list of cyber-safety concerns was unsolicited contact from strangers and accessing inappropriate information (with 75 per cent saying they are very or moderately concerned) followed by the publishing of private content on a public social media platforms (71 per cent) and internet scams (70 per cent).
'¢    Rules are commonly set: 69 per cent of parent set rules about the type of personal information their kids can share online, 66 per cent set rules about the type of content they can access, 55 per cent set rules about the social networking sites they are allowed to join, 55 per cent set rules about the time of day when their children can access the internet at home while 15 per cent say they have no rules for their children about accessing the internet.
'¢    Parents to take online responsibility: 62 per cent of parents believe they are primarily responsible for their child's cyber safety practices. 18 per cent say it is the school's responsibility. 16 per cent say no single person or institution should play the greatest role.

'Technology is just something else young people use on a daily basis to make their lives easier whether it's to do homework, connect with friends and family or to be entertained. Parents can help their children have a positive online experience by involving themselves in their children's use of the internet, keeping an eye on how they interact with others and regularly talking to them about what online behaviour is acceptable,' Darren added.

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