Your Teen is Talking to Strangers and Giving Out Too Much Info

By: Wen Tong Neo

McAfee released a study in June that exposed a shocking revelation for the parents of tweens and teens. The 2014 Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying exposed that teens often over share personal information and are willing engage strangers online.

The survey highlighted some important findings. Private lives are not so private. Teens often seek social networks considered to be the “no parent zone.” Cyberbullying is still prevalent on the world wide web and teens are often the victim. Cyberbullying conflicts are also carried into offline altercations.

Some of the statistics are startling. According to the survey, only 61 percent of youth have enabled the privacy settings on their social network profiles, 52 percent do not turn off their location or GPS, and 14 percent have posted their home addresses online.  Cyberbullying has increased excessively since last year’s study by McAfee. This year’s study revealed that 87 percent of youth witnessed cyberbullying. Last year it was 27 percent. The reasons given for the cyberbullying include appearance, race, religion and sexual identity.

One of the biggest problems teens face in light of the increased cyberbullying is how to handle the situation. McAfee reports that 24 percent of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online. Victims of cyberbullying reported that they became defensive or angry while other victims deleted their social media accounts to stop the bullying.

Another highlight of the survey was the realization that teens are still hiding things from their parents. According to the study, 45 percent of teens would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching, 53 percent minimize or close web browsers when a parent enters the room and 50 percent of teens clear their history of online activity. Teens tend to flock to websites that are harder for parents to monitor such as YouTube and Instagram.

McAfee conducted the study through The Futures Company which surveyed 1502 young adult men and women ages 10 to 18 in the United States. According to the Quantitative Methodology, “The survey was split evenly among age and gender. The interviews were conducted from April 2, 2014 through April 14, 2014.”

Education is the best tool for parents. Teens need to be educated on the risks of sharing private information online and the risks of engaging online predators. It is also important for parents to have access to their kid’s social media accounts in order to monitor what they are doing online. It is just as important as watching them in the backyard.