McAfee, part of Intel Security, today released findings from the company’s 2014 Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying. The annual study examines the online behavior and social networking habits of U.S. preteens and teens. The most significant finding from this year’s study reveals that 87 percent of youth have witnessed cyberbullying versus last year when 27 percent of youth witnessed cruel behavior online. This behavior was perceived to result in anger and embarrassment, leading to a broader theme about how online behavior is impacting their offline lives. The study highlights how risky online activity can follow them offline and possibly make them even more susceptible to cyberbullying.
“Parents must discuss online activity with their children to better ensure their safety and security offline,” said Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at McAfee. “Whether a child is a victim or an instigator of cruel behavior such as cyberbullying, the negative behavior can deeply affect their identity and their reputation.”
Despite significant efforts to discourage cyberbullying, and its negative effects, the number of occurrences continues to grow with 87 percent of youth having witnessed cyberbullying. Of those who responded they were cyberbullied, 72 percent responded it was due to appearance while 26 percent answered due to race or religion and 22 percent stated their sexuality was the driving factor. Of those who witnessed cyberbullying, 53 percentresponded the victims became defensive or angry while 47 percent said the victims deleted their social media accounts, underscoring its significant emotional impact. While the study reveals cyberbullying continues to represent a serious problem for youth, the 2014 survey found 24 percent of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.
Online Conflict Driving Offline Consequences
Unfortunately, the negative experience of cyberbullying does not only exist online. Social networks are causing a majority of U.S. adolescents to experience negative situations that ultimately lead to offline arguments. The study found 50 percent of youth have been involved in an argument because of something posted on social media, a51 percent increase from last year’s result, which found only 33 percent had been involved in an argument. Four percent of young adults stated the original online altercation led to a physical fight.
Not So Private Lives
In addition to oversharing feelings, youth also overshare what would be considered private information publicly, both intentionally and unintentionally. Only 61 percent of youth have enabled the privacy settings on their social networking profiles to protect their content, and 52 percent do not turn off their location or GPS services across apps, leaving their locations visible to strangers. Additionally, 14 percent have posted their home addresses online – a 27 percent increase from last year’s results.
“By uncovering our youth’s online behavior activities, parents, guardians, teachers and coaches can be more aware of cruel behavior that can potentially take place offline,” continued Dennedy. “As a result of closely monitoring online activities, hopefully we all can do our part to provide appropriate assistance and help eradicate cyberbullying.”
Other Survey Highlights:
No Parent Zone: Youth want to socially network with their peers only
- Youth use social networking sites they believe their parents are not members of or are trolling. YouTube is the most frequented site, with 97 percent of respondents visiting the site or app on a weekly basis. YouTube was closely followed by Instagram, with 92 percent of respondents visiting the site or app on a weekly basis.
Hide and Don’t Seek: Youth would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching
- Although 90 percent of youth believe their parents trust them to do what is right online, 45 percent would still change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching.
Finding Social Acceptance
- While 79 percent of youth have never used the Internet or social media to reinvent themselves, one in three youth feel more accepted on social media than they do in real life.
- Youth fear their privacy will be compromised (25 percent) and fear being hacked(24 percent) more than they fear being unpopular (16 percent) or cyberbullied (12 percent).
- Half (49 percent) of youth have regretted something they have posted online.
Top 5 Tips for Parents to Help Educate Their Kids:
1. Connect with your kids. Casually talk to them about the risks of all online connections and make sure the communication lines are open.
- Gain access. Parents should have passwords for their children’s social media accounts and passcodes to their children’s devices to have full access at any given moment.
- Learn their technology. Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use. You want to know more about their devices than they do.
- Get social. Stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks. You don’t have to create an account but it is important to understand how they work and if your kids are on them.
- Reputation management. Make sure your kids are aware anything they post online does not have an expiration date.