Kids, safety and the Internet.

Got a press release the other day that I felt was worth sharing with you chaps... It has to do with privacy and safety concerns of how kids use the Internet. Ever since the initial hoo-hah about what kids can get up to (think NetNanny launching etc) we've become a little complacent. Take a look at this screenshot to jolt yourself into action. I'm not sure what the solution is, but we need to think about this, and talk about it...

The screenshot is from ou.toilet, the mobile based youth network that caused a flutter in South Africa recently.


The MSN survey, run by Microsoft as part of Safer Internet Day on 8 February, suggests that nearly half (44%) of children have lied about their age when online; over a third (37%) of those who had been contacted by a stranger (75%) responded; and only 4% told someone older that they trusted, such as a parent or teacher.

What’s more, 39% of children between the ages of 14 and 18 look at websites or play online games that their parents would likely disapprove of, and two-thirds (67%) clear out their browser history to make sure their parents can’t view their online activity.

The survey, looking at the attitudes and behaviours of both parents and children around online safety, was conducted last month across 11 countries, including South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Greece and Egypt.


  • 67% of teenagers have cleaned out their browser history and/or cache to make sure their parents can’t see what they were looking at online. 17% say they always do it.
  • 39% of teenagers look at websites or play online games of which their parents would not approve.
  • 44% of teenagers have lied about their age online.
  • 15% of teenagers allow all internet users access to their information on social networks.
  • However, 85% restrict access to only family and friends or use privacy settings to limit access in some way.
  • 75% of teenagers have been contacted by a stranger via the internet, and as many as 37% of these have responded to them out of curiosity.
  • Out of those who have been contacted by a stranger online, 10% have been scared by it, and 11% have been worried.
  • 15% of teenagers have admitted to communicating something via a social network that was intended to be hurtful or intimidating.
  • 23% of teenagers would feel comfortable about making friends with adults online, which they would not ordinarily do, and 18% would feel comfortable revealing secrets online they would not ordinarily share.
  • 87% of parents have talked with their children about potential online dangers — that’s a higher percentage than have had the “birds and the bees” talk (74%).
  • 65% of parents are confident that their children are taking necessary safety precautions with the information they are sharing online.
  • Over a third (36%) of parents admit they do not monitor their children’s online movements or internet postings.
  • 26% of parents do not take any actions to limit or control their children’s internet use at home. 36% use online parental controls or filtering software to block websites.
  • 44% of parents do not know whether their children have privacy settings on their social networks.
  • 69% of parents take steps to ensure their children don’t stumble on any adult- related sites they have visited.



  1. Hey Andy

    I think the overall situation is a little scary, but think the article / survey misses some key points. For example:

    1. A lot of social media sites require kids to a certain age, e.g. Facebook. There is therefore an "incentive" to lie

    2. I think almost all attempts to control the content on the internet have largely failed. In Australia they have tried several initiatives with limited access.

    3. The reality is that in most homes, the kids are more tech savvy than the parents. No surprises therefor that they can circumvent most attempts by the parents.

    4. Increasingly the are more and more tools freely available that allow kids (and adults) to surf annonymously e.g. private browsing options in all the major browsers (no need to delete history, cache, etc), VPN software, etc.

    5. Lastly kids will be kids and will always be attracted to that which they aren't supposed to be.

    Technology is unlikely to solve this. Best bet is to teach your kids common sense, good morals and hope they apply them.

  2. Fully agree. Open, honest education is probably the only way forward. Speak to me in 6 years when Jack starts surfing. :)

  3. The bottom line is that it is all about the values you instill in your kids in general, and the life skills you equip them with.

    Kids are exposed to porn and weirdos in "real" life too. They should be equipped with the skills to deal with this kind of stuff no matter what form it takes.

    In fact, I am so tired of everyone blaming the Internet and technology for what their children are exposed to that I'm busy putting together a talk on Parenting Digital Natives. I believe the biggest problem is that parents don't really understand their children and how different they actually are.

    Hope you won't wait 6 years to attend one of my talks Andy - it may be too late ;)

  4. @Vanessa Fully agree. Anything banned immediately becomes a target for curiosity. It's about education. Would love to attend one of your talks - keep me posted on when they happen :)


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