Do Our Children Actively Conceal Internet Usage

There’s no doubt that the internet now plays a much bigger role in our children’s education. Most of us are familiar with the sight of our children studying at a computer instead of a book. Yet do we know how much time our children do spend looking at these screens, it’s likely we don’t.

Well if a survey in Australia is to believed it is very likely indeed. A report which was produced and released in Canberra found that 70% of Australian children aged between 8-17 said that their parents did not know how much they used the internet.

Perhaps more worryingly, over 50% of the children interviewed said that they would often modify their browser histories in order to hide which sites they had visited. Another 10% had actually gone to the extent of creating fake social media accounts to throw parents of the track. In fact it is probably unlikely that the majority of parents even know how to check a browser’s history or validate their children’s social networking presence.

Combined with these sort of tactics, it seems extremely likely that most parents in Australia have no idea what their children do online. The survey also asked questions about the children’s concern about being online. It might be surprising for parents to hear that the biggest one is that of cyber bullying in the 8 to 12 year age bracket, whilst the teenagers were more concerned about privacy issues and having their accounts hacked.

Again the concern is that some of the issues that our children are worrying about, are probably completely unknown to the majority of parents. How many parents would worry about our kids getting bullied whilst using the computer? In truth, probably not that many as it was simply a concept that didn’t exist when the majority of us where growing up.

For the record Cyber bullying is normally defined as the use of information technology to harass people in a repeated, aggressive and deliberate manner. Finally 80% of the children has some experience of cyber bullying with nearly 40% of them describing themselves as victims. There is every likelihood that these results based on the response of Australian children would be repeated in most Western countries. There are many issues involved with our children using technology that we are simply unaware of. This is made even worse by the wide technology skills gap that often exists between children and parents. How many of the parents are aware of technology like this which is used to bypass content and filter restrictions on line by changing perhaps to a US IP address.

There is technology however available that can pass an element of control back to the parents. Most of the major anti-virus companies now produce internet security products which incorporate parental control components.

These can be used to restrict access to specific sites or categories, also to control the amount of time your children can use the internet on a daily or weekly basis. Obviously the one essential element that is required to enforce parental controls and limits on technology is ensuring some basic knowledge of the technology involved. The internet can be brilliant for kids, after all who would object to the streaming the BBC News, but it should be controlled and monitored especially for impressionable children.

It can be difficult especially in the fast moving world of social networking or proxies and vpns, yet there are simple sites like these which explain this technology if needed.