The Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-teens and Teens Are Up To Online.


This online report by Intel Security shows that 60% of children aged 8-16 are interested in learning to program or code for new apps or websites. Furthermore, a quarter of parents are hopeful their child is learning to write computer code to help in obtaining a job for the future.

The study examines the online behaviors and social networking habits of American pre-teens and teens ages 8 to 16 years old; the study also surveyed the concerns of parents. The 2015 research revealed that when it comes to online activity, parents are most concerned (28%) about their children unknowingly interacting with predators/pedophiles, while 21% fear them interacting with strangers in general. This concern could be warranted as 27% of teen/pre-teen respondents said they would meet or have met someone in person they first met online.

Main Findings:

Of the parents surveyed who use social media, about 84% follow or are connected with their children, hoping to gain access to their interactions with followers and the information they post. Ninety-four percent of parents believe they know what their children are doing online.

The majority of parents (89%) say it is important that their children receive online safety or cybersecurity training on how to better protect their personal information. The survey indicates that their children are following suit, as 83% of them say they are concerned about the privacy of their personal information and 79% are learning about online safety from their parents.

Fifty-five percent of preteens and teens surveyed believe that other people gaining access to their personal information is the worst activity that can happen to them online. Yet, 29% know other people’s online passwords. Of those teens who have and use other people’s passwords, 56% report they use them to see if the person is talking to an ex, while 38% say they want to see private photos and 24% want to dig up dirt on the other person.

While parents’ concerns about cyberbullying are not as high as they are regarding predators, 35% of youth indicate that they have bullied people on social media. Of those who have bullied others, 61% state it was because the person was mean to them, while 26% indicated it was because they did not like the person.

61% of 13-16 year old boys and girls, 69% of 8-12 year old boys, and 73% of 8-12 year old girls stated that the number of ‘likes’ or ‘favorites’ on a social media post matter to them. In fact, 28% of 8-12 year old girls say that 25-50 ‘likes’ or ‘favorites’ make them feel happy, while 21% of 8-12 year old boys say that 50-100 ‘likes’ or ‘favorites’ make them feel happy.

56% of youth share that photos of themselves, or “selfies,” receive the most likes, while 20% say that a photo with a group will get their posts more likes.

Fifty-two percent of parents are comfortable if their children are friends with adults on social media. Of this group, 93% of parents approve if the person is a relative or someone they know, and 56% of parents would permit their children to be friends with a teacher.

31% of parents believe that their 8-year-old daughters spend 10-15 hours a week online compared to fewer than 5 hours a week for their 8 year old boys. Boys and girls ages 8-12 (76% and 71%, respectively) and 66% of 13-16 year old boys report spending “most of their time” on mobile devices watching videos. About 71% of 13-16 year old girls report spending “most of their time” texting.

Cyber Parenting to Help Facilitate Online Safety:

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

2. 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. Put a consequence in place for breaking this critical password rule.

3. Read App Reviews. By reading app flags, age restrictions (ranks include: everyone, low maturity, medium maturity, or high maturity) and customer reviews for an app, you will be better equipped to evaluate whether an app may be suitable for your child.

4. Gain Access. Parents should have passwords for their children’s social media accounts and passcodes to their children’s devices which allow them to have full access.

5. Up Your Tech Knowledge. Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use, as well as creating your own social media accounts. Staying knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks is an important way to understand how they work and may help you determine whether your kids are on them.