If parents think that installing internet parental controls (like BSecure Online, SafeEyes, etc.) in your home computers or laptops, knowing their teens’ online password or even checking the text messages or emails are enough for them to find out their kids’ online behavior, they should think again.
A recent study done by McAfee, the anti-virus company, showed that there is a big difference between what parents think about their teens’ online activities and what is actually happening. The study found out what the teens do to throw their parents off the online trail.
The study, entitled “The Digital Divide: How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents,” found that more than three out of four parents believe they know what their teen is doing online, and half of the parents believe that their teens tell them everything they do online.
However, two out of three teens believe that there is no reason for their parents to know their online activities. But one-half of teens surveyed said that they would change their online behavior if their parents are really monitoring what they are doing.
In McAfee’s study, these were the ways that the parents used to monitor their kids’ online activities: 49.1 percent of the parents surveyed install parental controls; 44.3 percent know their teens’ passwords; 27 percent have taken their teens’ devices; 10.3 percent use location tracking to monitor their teens; and 3.5 percent have consulted psychologists for help.
The teens, on the other hand, are using the following ways to fool their parents: 53 percent are clearing browser history; 46 percent are closing or minimizing browsers when parents walk in; 34 percent hide or delete instant messages or videos; 23 percent lie or leave out details about their online activities; 21 percent use internet-enabled mobile device to socialize; 20 percent use privacy settings in their social networking accounts to make certain content viewable only by their friends; 20 percent use private browsing mode; 15 percent create another email account that is not known to their parents; and nine percent create fake social networking profiles.
Sixty-one percent of the teens polled feel confident that they know how to hide what they do online from their parents, and 71 percent have actually done something to hide their online behavior. Only 56 percent of parents are aware of this deception by their kids.
Here’s the breakdown of the parent’s awareness regarding their kids’ online coverup: 17.5 percent of parents are aware that their kids are clearing their browser history; 16.6 percent of the parents know their kids are minimizing their browser when they walk in their rooms while log in to the internet; only 5.4 percent realize that their kids are deleting or hiding inappropriate videos; 10.5 percent know that their kids are lying about their online activities; and 3.7 percent of parents have an idea that their kids are using private browsing in the internet.
The study also mentioned that female teens are more likely (than male) to cover up their online behavior from their parents.
According to McAfee, the gap in perception that exists between what teens are doing online and what parents really know can be narrowed by parents having frequent one-on-one talks with their teens about the choices they’re making online. McAfee says that it also helps if the kids are made to be aware of the risks and consequences of their choices online.
McAfee asks parents to be more diligent about setting the parental controls and monitor them often to see if their kids have found ways to go around it. In addition, parents should be upfront with kids about installing parental controls in their devices because the 50 percent of the teens polled in the study indicated that they would think twice about their online activities if they knew their parents are watching.
Lastly, McAfee challenges the parents to be aware of the new technologies that their kids are using. They need to educate themselves about various devices and the apps their teens are using to go online.