Children have spent more and more time on the internet since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and, with online education for even lower classes becoming popular, exposure to the internet is also beginning at an early age, which leaves kids vulnerable to cyberbullying and other dangers. According to a report by internet security company McAfee — Life Behind the Screens of Parents, Tweens, and Teens — children hit their online stride when they are between 15 and 16, at which point mobile usage jumps so much it approaches levels they will carry into adulthood.
Research by McAfee, an American computer security software firm, surveyed 15,500 parents and more than 12,000 of their children in ten countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and India, to understand how they protect themselves and their loved ones on the internet.
Worldwide, 90 per cent of teens between 15 and 16 said they used a smartphone or mobile device. This marked a noteworthy 14 per cent spike in usage when compared to children 10 to 14 years old, 76 per cent of whom said they use a smartphone or mobile device, the May 12 report stated.
Indian kids exposed to online risks more than any country
Researchers also found the US has the highest cyberbullying rate (28 per cent) and high exposure to online risks, while India had the highest exposure to online risks out of any country. India also had some of the earliest mobile maturity, as per the data.
Global trends on cyberbullying
By the age of 17 or 18 reports of cyberbullying increased to 18 per cent, attempted theft of online accounts to 16 per cent, and unauthorised use of personal data to 14 per cent, data showed.
Data also showed that 73 per cent of children look to parents – more than any other resource – for help in terms of online safety. Parents, however, seem to lag behind a bit in actually taking active steps to secure their child from cyberbullying.
The report noted: “Parents take more precautions, such as installing antivirus software, using password protection, or sticking to reputable online stores when shopping, on their own devices than they do on their children’s connected devices.”
Secret lives of teens and tweens online
According to the research, more than half of the surveyed children (59 per cent) act to hide their online activity – from clearing browser history to omitting details about what they are doing online
Do girls experience more dangers online?
According to the research, there is a gender bias when it comes to parents protecting kids from online threats. Data shows girls are more protected than boys, but it is the boys who encounter more issues online.
Girls aged 10-14 were more likely than boys of the same age to have parental control on personal computers or laptops in almost every country surveyed, while boys were more likely to hide their activity from parents.
23 per cent of parents said they would check the browsing and email history on the PCs of their daughters aged 10 to 14. But for boys aged 10 to 14, this is only 16 per cent.
22 per cent of parents restrict access to certain sites for girls. For boys this is just 16 per cent.