A new study released by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education revealed that most parents of elementary and middle school students in the U.S. are not aware of the risks their kids are taking online. The Children’s Internet Usage Study compared the self-reported online behaviors of kids in grades 4-8 with their parents’ perceptions of their behavior.
The findings show that kids spend more time online and remain online much later during the school week than parents realize. They visit sites their parents wouldn’t approve of and engage with strangers online and offline more frequently than their parents know – despite receiving instruction on the safe use of the Internet.
- 40 percent of kids surveyed said they connected with or chatted online with a stranger.
- 21 percent took the relationship a step further and spoke to a stranger by phone.
- 15 percent tried to meet with a stranger they first encountered online.
- 11 percent actually met a stranger in their home, the stranger’s home, a park, mall or restaurant — often accompanied by a friend.
- 30 percent reported texting a stranger from their phone.
- 25 percent revealed their phone numbers to a stranger.
- 6 percent revealed their home addresses.
“Though parents are teaching their kids about Internet safety, our study finds they are not always vigilant in their follow through,” said Patrick Craven, director of the Center for Cyber Safety and Education and parent. “We’ve seen too many reports of young lives cut short or severely impacted and identities stolen as a result of unsafe online behaviors. With kids accessing the Internet from so many types of devices, parents need help to closely monitor their online activities and alert them to new threats.”
The Center is the global authority on Internet safety education. It is the nonprofit, charitable foundation of (ISC)2, the sanctioning organization with over 110,000 members that certifies and educates information, cyber, software and infrastructure security professionals around the world. Since 2011, the Center has offered Safe and Secure Online, the leading free education program that teaches kids, parents, teachers and seniors around the world to protect themselves online. Certified security experts who are members of (ISC)2 recently updated the curriculum to better equip parents with the knowledge and tools required to protect children in all facets of cyber space, based on the new study’s findings. The free education program can be accessed in English at www.SafeAndSecureOnline.org. The program materials are on track to be translated into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and other languages over the next several months.
Other key findings from the study include:
- 53 percent of kids who participated in the survey access the Internet for reasons other than homework seven days a week.
- 49 percent have been online at 11 p.m. or later on a school night.
- 33 percent have been online at midnight or later.
- Late night weekday Internet use impacted schooling, with 37 percent of kids reporting they sometimes feel tired at school; 10 percent were late to school and 5 percent missed school because they were online too late.
Angela Messer, Booz Allen Hamilton executive vice president and leader of the firm’s Cyber Futures business, and Cyber Functional Service Officer in the firm’s Strategic Innovation Group, noted “We’re only now beginning to understand the impact of being a connected, digital society. We need to protect the youngest generations of Internet users. Education and awareness about Internet-safe behavior is a must-do for online households.” Global consulting and technology firm Booz Allen supported the study.
David Shearer, CEO of (ISC)2 and the Center for Cyber Safety and Education said, “We are grateful to Booz Allen Hamilton, a valued partner over the years, for supporting this important initiative to raise parents’ awareness about the types of risky activities their children are engaging in online. Concerning findings such as these only reinforce the need for educational programs like Safe and Secure Online to help parents play an active role in preventing risks.”
Shugoll Research conducted the study with children and parents in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore who self-reported with the promise of anonymity to encourage honest answers. The full study findings and related infographic are available at www.SafeAndSecureOnline.org/childrens-internet-study/.
About the Center for Cyber Safety and EducationTM & (ISC)2®
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education is the nonprofit, charitable foundation of (ISC)2, the sanctioning organization that educates and certifies cybersecurity professionals around the world. The Center is the global authority on Internet safety education and the leading source of research and information on the international information security workforce. The organization fosters careers in information security by awarding scholarships to women, high school students, and undergraduate and graduate college students. Global headquarters for the 501(c)3 organization is located in Clearwater, FL, with regional offices in Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. For more information, visit www.SafeAndSecureOnline.org
About Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology for more than 100 years. Today, the firm provides management and technology consulting and engineering services to leading Fortune 500 corporations, governments, and not-for-profits across the globe. Booz Allen partners with public and private sector clients to solve their most difficult challenges through a combination of consulting, analytics, mission operations, technology, systems delivery, cybersecurity, engineering, and innovation expertise. International headquarters are in McLean, Virginia. (NYSE: BAH) For more on Booz Allen in cyber, visit: www.boozallen.com/consulting/technology/cyber-security.