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eMarketer estimates that there will be 48.8 million US internet users ages 0 to 17 this year, representing 66.3% of the child/teen population. As these younger consumers spend more time online, today’s mothers and fathers are tasked with a new responsibility: “cyberparenting.” In May 2015, Intel surveyed more than 1,000 children and teens ages 8 to 16 and over 1,000 parents in the US and found that 94% of parent internet users believed they knew what their children were doing online.
Nearly three-quarters of parents knew the passwords of their child or teen. However, a breakdown showed that this skewed heavily toward laptops, as 87.5% of parents cited such devices. Beyond that, the percentage dropped below 50%, with 47.2% aware of desktop passwords. Just over three in 10 knew tablet passwords, and only 18.1% were aware of smartphone passwords—worrisome, considering that 58% of 8-to-16-year-old mobile device users reported spending 2 or more hours with such devices daily. For all four devices, usage stood at 55% or more.
Even if their parents know their passwords, children and teens still find ways to hide their digital activities, as 51% reported taking some kind of action to hide their online behavior from cyberparents. The most popular action was clearing browser history, cited by 26%, while one-quarter deleted messages. Nearly one-fifth minimized browsers when an adult walked into the room, and 17% dropped desktops and laptops and relied on mobile devices instead—devices for which, again, parents were least likely to know the passwords.
What’s the point? Children and teens were most likely to just not want parents seeing their interactions with friends, at 46% of respondents. Fully 31% didn’t want parents knowing the time of day they were online, and 21% wanted to hide people they hung out with.
They may be hiding from their parents, but children and teens were still aware of the importance of cybersecurity. Fully 83% were concerned about the privacy of their personal information. Nearly eight in 10 children and teens were learning about online safety from their parents—in line with the 89% of parents who said it was important that their children received online safety or cybersecurity training on how to protect personal info.
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