How teens are fooling their parents online

25 Jun 2012

More than 70pc of teenagers have found ways to avoid being monitored by their parents online, compared to 45pc of teens who have hidden their online behaviour from a parent in 2010, McAfee’s 2012 Teen Internet Behavior study suggests.

Nearly half of parents believe their teens (ages 13-17) tell them everything they do online and insist they are in control when it comes to monitoring their teens’ online behaviours.

However, as the study results indicate, more teens are hiding their online behaviour from their parents today than they did two years ago. The top 10 ways teens are fooling their parents, as revealed in study, are:

  1. Clearing the browser history (53pc)
  2. Close/minimise browser when parent walked in (46pc)
  3. Hide or delete IMs or videos (34pc)
  4. Lie or omit details about online activities (23pc)
  5. Use a computer parents don’t check (23pc)
  6. Use an internet-enabled mobile device (21pc)
  7. Use privacy settings to make certain content viewable only by friends (20pc)
  8. Use private browsing modes (20pc)
  9. Create private email address unknown to parents (15pc)
  10. Create duplicate/fake social network profiles (9pc)

Despite their awareness of online dangers, teens still take risks by posting personal information and risky photos online, without their parents’ knowledge.

Teens are also participating in dangerous and illegal activities. Fifteen per cent of teens have hacked a social network account, 30.7pc access pirated movies and music, and 8.7pc have hacked someone’s email online. Less than 15pc of parents are aware their children are engaging in any of these behaviours.

Instant access to information has also made it easier than ever for teens to cheat in school, with 16pc of teens having admitted to looking for test answers on their phones, and 48.1pc of teens having looked up answers online. Meanwhile, 77.2pc of parents said they were not very or not at all worried about their teens cheating online.

“While it is not necessarily surprising that teens are engaging in the same types of rebellious behaviours online that they exhibit offline, it is surprising how disconnected their parents are,” says Stanley Holditch, online safety expert for McAfee.

“This is a generation that is so comfortable with technology that they are surpassing their parents in understanding and getting away with behaviours that are putting their safety at risk.”

Teens online image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic