Study shows disconnect between kids and parents online

According to a new study, only one in five parents are concerned about what their kids are getting up to online, and most aren’t talking about cyber safety. When education is one of the key solutions, this might be a troubling fact.

Startling news this week is coming out of a study commissioned by security firm ESET which has found that while online use is skyrocketing, parents just aren’t engaging with their little ones over that use, and good safety practices aren’t being transferred to the kids.

This despite the fact that children are spending more time online than ever before, with this being close to almost an hour for kids ages five to eight, an hour and a half for nine to twelve year olds, and a staggering three hours per day for the teens in Aussie families.

And yet, while more time is spent in front of a computer or on a web-connected device, parents aren’t talking to their kids about the issues online, with 84 percent of surveyed families concerned by the chance of their offspring seeing adult material and possibly downloading a virus.

Education may well be the answer, and while the government is beginning to do its part, at least one expert thinks that schools and parents should both be taking part in this conversation.

“Proper digital education is vital to making sure kids enjoy the internet safely, with both schools and parents having a role to play,” said Richard Zwienenberg, Senior Research Fellow at ESET.

“Taking the time to teach kids about the internet will not only make them safer, but make them better digital citizens in the future.”

For parents, it could be as simple as pulling the kids aside for a conversation over what they should be clicking on and how much internet usage is good, or it might even be monitoring what they do, but education is definitely key.

“Parents of course should teach their children the values, like on any other topic in life,” said Zwienenberg, telling GadgetGuy that “you teach them how to cross the street, over time they have learned to keep watching for traffic that doesn’t stop and eventually you let them cross the street themselves when you feel confident.”

“The same applies for trust in their online activities,” he said, “however, unlike with crossing the street where you can see all traffic coming, on the internet this is not possible. Malware is usually invisible and can have you connect to non-allowed sites, browsing a trusted and allowed website can have an advertisement popping up that either contains malicious code or advertises/redirects to sites with e.g. sexual content.”

Security software can’t be forgotten, however, and Zwienenberg does bring it back to that, encouraging parents to make sure software is up to date and on computers and devices at home.

“Installing security software is the first step toward cybersecurity,” he said. “The second is educating yourself about safe Internet practices being fully aware of the possibilities.”

The web is filled with lots of these, and with security problems popping up every day, many of them new and highly creative, staying on guard can be very difficult, but at least the software angle will take care of a large portion.

Now you just need to have that talk about what’s right, what’s not, and what you can learn from each other.