Mothers and fathers worrry more and more for the many hours their children spend on theInternet
. A parent of two claimed to have experienced anxiety over the possibility of her children encountering inappropriate or sexually explicit content while surfing the Web. The data is seen in a recent study conducted by theKasperky Lab
, a multinational company in the information security industry, with over 400 million clients throughout the world.
Grooming & Cyberbullying: Parent’s Worst Fears
The study brought to light quite interesting data. Of the parents surveyed, 41% fear that their children may be somehow contacted on the Internet by strangers with bad intentions. This is unfortunately the sad phenomenon of grooming , discussed in our article How to Keep Our Children from Falling into the Grooming Trap . Grooming can be summed up as the act by which adults fake empathy, understanding, and affection into order to lure minors through the Internet for use of their own sexual satisfaction (for example, by getting naked images of the child). It is therefore strongly related to pedofilia and child pornography on the Internet. In reality, grooming in many occassions is the doorway to true sexual exploitation of children.
Then 40% of parents also expressed serious concern over the excessive sharing of personal information. Basic information, such as one’s home address or phone number, is sensitive data that becomes accessible to all when published carelessly on social networks. Among all the possible dangers of the Internet, parents are becoming increasingly worried that their children will become victims of cyberbullying . It’s a real social evil of our time that unfortunately has already caused many deaths of teens throughout the world. According to a recent study conducted by OCSE (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), there is fortunately a low rate of bullying among children in Italy. Just 5% of Italian teens claimed to have been victims of this type of abuse. Only Sweden shows better data with a low 4% of teens. On the other end of the spectrum, Austria produced the most worriesome statistics on violence among children ages 11 through 15. Between European countries and North America, the rough average is about 11%. For more information on cyberbullying, read our article Media Representation of the Deviant Teenager: Analysis and Tools .
What are the Safest and Most Effective Tools for Defense? Parental Control.
Despite so much anxiety and fear, a quite interesting fact emerges from the research. Although 2/3 of the parents interviewed (61%) fear that their own children can navigate dangerous websites alone, only a quarter of them (24%) have installed parental control systems. These are programs that limit the access points to specific categories of red flag websites. Therefore, 76% of the parents who seems extremely worried for their own children don’t take any action to defend them or teach them about the potential risks of the Web. In other words, there is a strong awareness of the threats, but insufficient knowledge of the appropriate tools to defend themselves. But the tools do exists; you just have to know about them, and use them. Besides installing parental control systems, you need to use common sense. Parents could even surf the Web together with their children, particularly if they are minors. Above all, parents must exercise a type of control through constant guidance and orientation, and collaborate with the teachers at school to accomplish this goal.