1 in 5 Teens Victim of Cyberbullying

  • 91 percent of Oz teens feel safe online
  • Parents unaware of online behaviour
  • Teens unintentionally download malware

McAfee’  The Secret Life of Teens report , shows half of all teens surveyed have shared some form of personal information with strangers online such as their first name, age or email address.

Young males are more likely than females to have shared some form of personal information online (57 percent and 43 percent respectively) although males appear to be subject to less monitoring than females by their parents.

The survey reveals that more than half of all teens admit that they have actually hidden their online activities on at least one occasion. They commonly do this by closing or minimising their browser window when approached by an adult or clearing their browser history.

Even though 91 percent of Australian teenagers are confident they know how to stay safe online, the survey found that more than half are downloading potentially risky programs without their parent’s permission and one in four have inadvertently allowed a piece of malware or virus to infect their home computer.

The report also reveals cyber bullying among Australian teens is on the rise, with one in five teens having had mean or hurtful information posted about them online. Amongst teens who have experienced cyber bullying, the most common action taken is to alter privacy and security settings. With more than three quarters of all teens surveyed classed as ‘heavy internet users’ going online 6-7 days a week, the online world presents more opportunities for bullying to prevail beyond the classroom, meaning parents need to be more vigilant than even before.

“With more kids starting to use the Internet at such a young age, parents need to know how to keep their children safe from all threats, both offline and online,” said Moira Cronin, mother of two and McAfee Australia Cybermum. “The report findings worry me that children could be putting too much trust in strangers or downloading information from an unknown source, leaving not only themselves at risk but the whole family.”

More than half of all teenagers admit to some form of risky online behaviour, with many downloading programs without their parent’s permission. Boys are significantly more likely than girls to engage in risky online behaviour, such as downloading programs without permission and chatting to strangers online:

  • 43 percent of boys downloaded information without parent’s knowledge as compared to 33 percent of girls
  • 29 percent of boys accidentally allowed a virus/spyware to infect the home computer as compared to 26 percent of girls

Almost two thirds of teens have attempted to hide their online activities from a parent or guardian, often by closing the browser whenever an adult approaches. 4 in 10 teens agree that they would modify their online behaviour if they thought a parent or guardian would be watching. In an effort to further conceal online behavior, teens admit to the following:

  • 36 percent of teens close or minimise the browser when their parents enter the room
  • 27 percent of teens clear the browser history when they are done using the computer
  • Males are significantly more likely than females to have hidden or deleted videos (14 percent and 7 percent respectively)

Teens have more options to get online than ever before. Teens use a variety of devices to access the Internet, most commonly a desktop or laptop computer, while more than a third of 16-17 year olds surf the web on their mobile phone. The majority of young people have Internet access both at home and at school, with one in five teens using Wi-Fi while on the go.

  • 30 percent of teens access the Web through a mobile phone whilst 21 percent access the Web from a gaming console
  • 84 percent of teens access the Web either at the school or the library
  • 22 percent of teens go online anywhere with an open Wi-Fi signal 

The survey was conducted online by TNS Consultants from 7 September to 16 September 2010 and surveyed 572 teens aged 13-17 across Australia.

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