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Teens have tricks to conceal online activities

A new study finds that 70 percent of US teens hide their digital habits from their parents.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Nov 20, 2012 5:25PM

It’s time to change that staid question: Parents, do you know where your children are? Likely, they're in their room on the computer. But where are they in the vast World Wide Web?  

"The Digital Divide," a study commissioned by Internet security company McAfee, asked U.S. parents and teens about household online habits. Responses to the study indicate that digital devices are a source of some familial deception.

Photo: Alen Ajan/Getty ImagesSeventy percent of teens have concealed their online behavior from parents; this is up from 45 percent in 2010. Fifty-three percent of teens confessed to clearing their browser’s history. The second-most widely used strategy was closing or minimizing windows when parents were present.

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Other cloaking techniques teens employed include hiding instant messages; using an Internet-enabled mobile device and creating a private account or fake social profile.

Most parents talk to their teens about online habits and monitor their children’s virtual behaviors to an extent. However, one in three of the parents in the study identified their kids as more “tech-savvy” than they were.

Twenty-two percent of parents don’t think their children can “get in trouble online.”

But even if you’re monitoring your teen’s behavior, chances are you may not be getting the full picture. Teens know how to cover their technological tracks.

Thirty-three percent of U.S. teens surveyed claimed to be well-versed in disguising their Internet behavior from parents.

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Secrecy is a natural side effect of adolescence. Yet, a recent study of U.S. teens reported this month found American adolescents to be more devious than their European counterparts. Thirty-two percent of U.S. teens admit to accessing nude or pornographic material online, compared with 25 percent of U.K. teens and 28.5 percent of German teens. Sixteen percent of U.S. teens acknowledged using a mobile phone to cheat academically.

Most frightening, however, are the 12 percent of teens who have met someone online whom they later met in-person.

Additionally, 17 percent of teens confess to hacking another person's social media accounts. Maybe not quite as surprising, but nonetheless a cause for concern, is the more than 30 percent of teens who have pirated media online.

Robert Siciliano, a McAfee online security expert, described it this way:

"Their online world is their everything today. Understanding how to manipulate digital media is like playing kickball in today's world."

Photo: Alen Ajan/Getty Images

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Nov 28, 2012 3:01AM
Why have an age target? Adults do this too now and then when they were teens too. Every generation has sex, done drugs, so please do not say it's this generation. Before the technology-generation (with the computers, iPods, etc.), people had the dirty magazines or the cigarettes under the bed and that was a way to conceal things from their parents. Adults of today claim that their generation was the one no child ever questioned their parents, no one ever did drugs. That is not true. If they had the technology kids have now, they would be in the same situation. Every child is easily manipulated. 
Nov 21, 2012 4:59PM

News Flash: Kid's Are More Computer Savvy Than Their Parents..................Shocking!

And you're just figuring this out? And statistics lie. The stats documented here are from kids that "admit" to this behavior.



Hiding internet and on-line behavior from the parents?  You think?


I have zero doubt that my teens do this.  I spend a little time with each from time to time refreshing them on what is permissable from my internet access portal at home, with the repeated reminder that they get one mistake or violation of the parental Petit Domestic Tyrant's rules - it's stay in the bounds and don't let me get any whiff of a violation or simply loose all access to our home internet comnnection and lose use of any technology at home.  Forever. I feel that once you have explained clearly what exactly you expect from them regarding this, they need to be treated extremely clearly and firmly.  It's not different from how you might treat allowing a kid to use a gun - one mistake and that's it - no learning curves and no repeated chances to get it right.  Far as I'm concerned, folks need to treat these things correctly the first time - no "accidental shootings" with "OK, please don't do it again", and no willful deceit and misuse of the internet.   What they do elsewhere outside home from other gadgets is of course only controllable to the extent they will go along with what you tell them. 


I suggest to all parents to sieze the opportunity whenever you come across public discussion of how folks are using the internet and abusing it and what has happened "to people near you".  It's a good idea, I think, to occasionally forward to them various articles and commentaries - including things like how the FBI has found out X about someone or how (potential) employers Y are using social sites for info on applicants, etc. - and follow up with a short chat on same. The story about that teen girl who sent someone nude pictures which became "viral" and may have lead to her suicide is a case in point - I remind folks that stuff you put out on the internet is like a shared secret...  A secret remains secret only until it is shared with someone else.  Kids need to learn that they are responsible for what they do - and what they share with whom - and that one is a much-bigger challenge facing folks into the future.


Just my opinion.

Nov 21, 2012 4:52PM
Teach your kids to think and be responsible, and they will be safer no matter where they are or what they are doing. 
Nov 21, 2012 4:44PM
This is not a surprise,  but it does share statistics.  They have a quote from a McAfee online security expert but no tips or information on how to monitor your child's activities better - which would have been extremely useful.
Nov 21, 2012 4:25PM

Doesnt everyone do this!?? if not you should be!!!

Nov 21, 2012 4:15PM

wow and this surprises anyone???

just like when these delinquents rob, kill or do any other criminal activity and the parents go..."oh my johnny or susie would never do that"

trust me parents....and you should know you were young too....if you think you're kids are perfect little angels...you're as delusional as these kids are.....


you'd be surprised at what your kids are doing...but good and bad...and just who they are having sex with....

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