Parents – it's time to bCyberwise too!

87% of parents are now discussing cyber issues with their kids – this is great news, but the annual research report from Intel Security reveals that there is still work to be done.

Intel Security’s annual report Teens, Tweens and Technology examines the online behaviour and social networking habits of Australian tweens and teens and aims to highlight on the impact that risky behaviour has on their privacy, reputation and social media experiences.

The research revealed some interesting statistics, taken from interviews carried out with tweens and teens and their parents, most notably that 87% of parents are now discussing cyber issues with their kids and 66% of parents follow or ‘friend’ their children on social media.

87% of parents are now discussing cyber issues with their kidsThis is fantastic news, and it is encouraging to see that more families are taking an interest in cybersafety; however there is still work to be done. This year 53% of teens and tweens said they had witnessed cyberbullying and 16% said they had experienced it personally. Robyn Richardson, Life Education Program Development Manager expressed her concerns; ‘with 53% of children witnessing cyberbullying, teaching explicit skills in “bystander response” is an essential element in Life Education’s program. These skills include how to support friends who have had a negative experience online and how to seek support of a trusted adult. Life Education’s focus is on the development of skills and strategies, to empower children to make decisions, not just giving information and encouraging correct behaviour’.

Australian children are also continuing to take risks online. Facebook has overtaken YouTube as the most popular social site for teens and tweens, with 36% of boys and 64% of girls aged 8-12 having Facebook accounts, despite the minimum age for the platform being 13 years old. 38% of Australian children have admitted to using fake social media profiles and 37% hide online activity from their parents demonstrating that cybersafety and cyber awareness education is more vital than ever. - 53% of teens and tweens said they had witnessed cyberbullying

The research also provided some interesting insights into the future for Australian kids. The study found that 46% of Australia’s youth is interested in learning to program or write code, with 59% hoping to use their cyber skills for protecting individuals’ privacy from being stolen by cybercriminals and 40% for protecting people’s safety from attacks from terrorists. As parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson says, ‘technology has become integral to life. Our kids don’t just want to use it, they want to build, develop and improve technology’.

But as parents what can we do to help and educate our kids when it comes to cybersafety?

Firstly, it is important that we become aware of our own online behaviours, especially as parents can be the worst offenders when it comes to spending too much time online. Dr Justin Coulson recommends that we need to set clear boundaries for the whole family to follow, for example, no WiFi after 9 pm, no mobile devices in bedrooms or phones down during precious family time.

Technology has become integral to life. Our kids don’t just want to use it, they want to build, develop and improve technology’

Dr Justin Coulson

Secondly, we need to make sure we are as clued-up as our kids. Without fully understanding the apps and social media platforms they are using it can be very hard to have conversations around their use. Download the apps and spend a few minutes getting to know how they work – you never know you might enjoy them too!

Thirdly, we need to open up opportunities to discuss with our children the issues around cybersafety. Maybe try explaining to your child your concerns and asking them to explain their viewpoints too; you could also try asking your child what they understand by cybersafety.

Intel Security’s Cybermum, Alex Merton McCann’s, top 5 cyber tips for parents.

Connect With Your Kids: Talk casually and frequently with them about the online risks, and make sure the communication lines are open. Foster discussions around relevant news stories or cases at schools

Set Password Rules: To show camaraderie and trust, teens may share their social media passwords with friends or acquaintances. Friend or not, this is a dangerous practice, so ensure that your kids understand the importance of personal security

Read App Reviews: Read the reviews for the apps your child is interested in, especially for any comments surrounding security. Personal recommendation is also great here, but another tips is to also encourage your kids to read the app’s review before they hit download

Establish Rules Together: Work out a set of online rules. You could even consider a formal Internet agreement or contract. Make sure you include time allowed online as well as what information can and can’t be shared online

Up Your Tech Knowledge: Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use – but also stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks too. I would recommend creating accounts for the social networks that your kids are using, so that you fully understand what they’re interacting with.

Life Education has been partnering with Intel Security for since 2012 working together to raise awareness around the importance of cybersafety and the issues surrounding cyberbullying.

Together we have built and developed two cybersafety modules, bCyberwise and It’s Your Call delivered to over 250,000 Australian children. We have also developed the bCyberwise Monster Family app to help families sharpen their cybersafety skills while helping the monster family stay cybersafe.