A recent investigative report from EU Kids Online concerning Internet safety found that most advice parents get is out of date and ineffective. Due to the fact that more and more children are accessing the web through mobile devices including smart phones many parents are focusing on the wrong things (see Vodafone Digital Parenting guide). The report exposes ten common myths which many parents believe about Internet safety. Here are the ten most common myths exposed in this report:
- Kids Know More than Parents – This one provides some encouraging news in that only 36% of 9-16 year olds believe they know more about technology and the internet than their parents. This shows that many parents are becoming more educated and informed about the Internet and how to keep their children safe.
- Central Location of PC Keeps Kids in Line – Moving the computer to the living room or another centrally located area does not offer as much protection as most parents think. Kids today are using mobile devices and can quickly hide windows from parents while they are on the family computer.
- Teaching Kids Digital Skills Keeps them Safe – The report has found that the more kids know about computers and the Internet, the more they risks they take. Kids who are very confident with their computer skills feel like the risks don’t apply to them. As kids learn more about computers it is essential that Internet safety education is provided along with any other information.
- Kids can get Around Internet Safety Software – Most internet safety software is very secure and very few children can get around the filters. Mobile safety apps like Vodafone Guardian can alert parents if it is removed or disabled which makes it even more difficult for kids to circumvent these safety measures.
- Everyone is Creating & Sharing Content – A common belief is that everyone has a blog and posts custom images online, but this is actually far from reality. Online one if five kids have recently created an avatar and less than one in ten have written a blog post. Most people use the Internet to access content that is already there.
- Everyone Watches Porn – Online pornography has moved viewing this type of content from something people were embarrassed about into the mainstream, but it isn’t nearly as common as most people think. Only one in seven children reported viewing sexual images online. Even assuming some of the kids surveyed lied about it, the number is still far lower than most people would expect.
- Bullies are the Bad Guys – When most people think of a cyber bully (or an in-person bully) they assume they are the big mean kid in class. This report, however, found that 60% of those who bully others have themselves been bullied as well.
- Social Networks Don’t Allow Kids Under 13 – While most sites have an official policy stating only people 13 or over can use their site, almost none of them enforce the policy. 38% of 9-12 year olds have a social networking profile.
- Kids are Talking to Strangers – This is one of the biggest fears parents have, but most kids aren’t talking to strangers online. The vast majority of people kids communicate with online are those they already know face-to-face. Only 9% of kids meet people online and then go on to see them in person.
- Offline Behavior Influences Online – Many people think that those who make bad choices offline are automatically going to do the same online. This is not always the case. Many people adopt a very different persona while online so ‘bad’ kids may behave better online and good kids may take more risks. Each child behaves differently online which is why parental involvement is so important.
Due to the rapid rate of change with computing devices and the Internet it is essential for parents to keep up to date with all the latest Internet Safety standards. Staying informed about how kids are accessing the Internet and what risks they are facing is critical to keeping them and the devices they use safe from the potential dangers online.