76 Per Cent of Canadian Youth Admit to Hiding Online Behaviour from Parents

McAfee Canada's 2014 Digital Deception in Canada survey reveals that 76% of youth hide their online activities from their parents. (CNW Group/McAfee, Inc.)

McAfee Canada study reveals digital disconnect between online behaviour of youth and level of parental awareness

MARKHAM, ON, Feb. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - McAfee Canada today released the findings from the company's 2014 Digital Deception in Canada study, which examines the online habits and interests of preteens, teens and young adults. It finds that when it comes to spending time on the Internet, Canadian youth between the ages of 10 and 23 are viewing content and engaging in behaviour that they choose to hide from their parents in a variety of ways.

"Children are hiding details about their online activities, and they're deleting instant messages and videos so that parents don't find out about their online and connected habits," said Brenda Moretto, Canadian Consumer Sales Manager at McAfee. "This study has shown the importance of parental involvement in influencing and maintaining a healthy level of proper online attitudes and conduct amongst our youth. Through active engagement, we can help them understand the importance of being responsible and making smarter cyber choices."

Digital Disconnect
While 35 per cent of Canadian parents attempt to monitor their children's online behaviour by using parental controls on their computers and mobile devices, 56 per cent of youth between the ages of 10 and 23 have visited websites or viewed videos their parents disapprove of. More than one out of five (22.4 per cent) youth viewed something away from home so their parents wouldn't find out about it. Some of this content includes sexual topics, drugs, simulated or real-life violence, bullying, depression, and answers to tests or assignments, among others.

Are Parents Trying Hard Enough?
More than half (57 per cent) of Canadian youth say their parents have had a conversation with them about being safe online, and 35 per cent of youth experience parental controls on their home computers and personal mobile devices to keep them safe. Furthermore, 27 per cent of youth say their parents have asked for the passwords to their email or social network accounts and mobile devices.

On the flip side, 25 per cent of youth say their parents do not engage in any of the following to monitor their online behaviour:

  • Engaged in a conversation about being safe online
  • Set parental controls on home computers and/or personal mobile devices
  • Asked for passwords to email accounts, social network accounts, and/or mobile devices
  • Took away mobile devices or computers
  • Removed access to Internet-enabled devices at home
  • Used location-based devices to keep track of the child
  • Consulted with a psychologist or school counselor about online behaviour

Other key findings include the following:

Teens are adept at hiding online behaviour from their parents.

  • Seventy-six (76) per cent of youth say they have done something to hide online behaviour from their parents or other adults. For example, 52 per cent have modified Internet settings (e.g. cleared the browser history, used private browsing modes, configured privacy settings to hide content, and disabled parental controls), and 35 per cent have closed or minimized the browser when a parent or other adult was nearby.
  • Looking closer at the data, almost half of female youth (49.6 per cent) cleared their browser history after an online session, as compared to 39.8 per cent of male youth.
  • Along the same lines, 29.6 per cent of male teens and 36.1 per cent of female teens deleted instant messages or videos. Broken down by age, we find that 31.3 per cent of 13-17 year olds and 36.8 per cent of 18-23 year olds did this to hide online activity from their parents.
  • More than one out of five (22.4 per cent) youth viewed something away from home so their parents wouldn't know what they were doing online. When we sort this data by age, it amounts to 19.2 per cent of pre-teens (10-12 years old), 28.5 per cent of 13-17 year old youth, and 18.9 per cent of young adults (18-23 years old).

Teens are curious about online content of which their parents would not approve.

  • More than half (56 per cent) of youth have visited websites or viewed videos of which their parents would disapprove. Thirty-nine (39) per cent of male youth and 33.2 per cent of female youth have visited a website without parental approval.
  • Almost a quarter (24.9 per cent) of male teens and almost a third (31.1 per cent) of female teens has viewed a video online that parents would not approve of.
  • Girls are more likely to say they have hacked into someone else's email and social network account compared to boys (13.7 per cent vs. 6.5 per cent).

Teens are actively searching for sensitive information and inappropriate content.

  • Seventy (70) per cent of youth say they have intentionally looked up at least one of the following topics online: sexual topics, answers to tests or assignments, drugs, simulated or real-life violence posted on social networking sites, bullying, depression, dating or matchmaking sites, sites about anorexia or bulimia, suicide and sites with resources to get help with an eating disorder.
  • Thirty-nine (39) per cent of male teens and almost half (47.7 per cent) of female teens search for sexual topics such as intercourse, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Thirty (30) per cent of 18-23 year olds are most likely to search for content about depression. Overall, 10.7 per cent of male youth and 21.3 per cent of female youth have been interested in learning about the medical illness.
  • More than one out of five (22.2 per cent) male youth search for simulated or real-life violence posted on Facebook and YouTube.

"One of the best ways to educate children on how to be safe online is through active engagement," said Moretto. "Talk to them and show interest in what they are doing online, set clear rules about online usage, keep the computer in a common area, and help them to feel comfortable about coming to you with questions."

Tips on How to Bridge the Digital Divide
Parents must become tech savvy and become familiar with the online world their children are immersed in.

  • Get device savvy: Learn how to use the Internet-connected devices and computing software in your household, whether they be laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, and software products.
  • Immerse yourself: Get socially involved in the channels your kids are using to communicate, and you'll learn about the nuances that come with maintaining online personas.
  • Teach online reputation management: Once you've gained a working understanding of the online social world, teach your kids what is appropriate online behaviour and what is not acceptable, and explain why. As a general guideline, don't post something online that you don't want your grandma to see.
  • Get secure: Utilize comprehensive security solutions, like McAfee LiveSafe Service, that include antivirus software to protect yourself, your kids, your identity and personal data on all of your devices.

Additional Resources
Infographic: Digital Deceptions in Canada: http://mcaf.ee/mcu7t

Quantitative Methodology
A survey of 350 youth between the ages of 10 to 23 completed the online survey between January 3 and January 21, 2014 using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 5.2%, 19 times out of 20.

About McAfee
McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), empowers businesses, the public sector and home users to safely experience the benefits of the Internet. The company delivers proactive and proven security solutions and services for systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world. With its Security Connected strategy, innovative approach to hardware-enhanced security, and unique Global Threat Intelligence network, McAfee is relentlessly focused on keeping its customers safe. http://www.mcafee.com.

McAfee Canada is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, with regional offices across Canada. The company's Consumer Software Research and Development facility is based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Note: McAfee is a registered trademark of McAfee, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

McAfee Canada maintains a website called "The State of Consumer and Enterprise Security in Canada" (http://mcaf.ee/canadastats) in order to provide a one-stop shop for writers looking for information on a variety of trends and issues affecting and shaping the Canadian security landscape. Feel free to check out the McAfee Canada resource site for security information, statistics, story ideas, and access to published McAfee surveys and studies.

SOURCE McAfee, Inc.

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For further information:

Dianna Lai / Steve Gold
StrategicAmpersand Inc. (for McAfee Canada)
dianna@stratamp.com
steve@stratamp.com
416-961-5595