McAfee’s 2013 study, Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kidsexamines the online habits and interests of tweens, teens, and young adults. It found there is an alarming and significant disconnect between what they do online and what their parents believe they do.

The study shows that 80% of parents did not know how to find out what their kids were doing online, while 62% did not think that their kids could get into deep trouble online. As for the young people, the study found that 69% said that they knew how to hide what they did online from their parents, and (disturbingly) 44% cleared their browser history or used private browsing sessions to hide their activity from their parents.

While youths understand that the Internet is dangerous, they still engage in risky (and sometimes illegal) behavior. Not only are they hiding this activity from their parents in a variety of ways, but in the study almost half (46%) admitted that they would change their behavior if they knew their parents were paying attention.

86% of youths believed that social sites are safe and were aware that sharing personal details online carries risks, yet kids admitted to posting personal information such as their email addresses (50%) and phone numbers (32%).

48% have viewed content they know their parents would disapprove of.

29% of teens and college-aged youths have accessed pirated music or movies online.

Adding to this problem is how clueless parents are regarding technology and their kids’ online lives: 54% of kids said their parents don’t have time to check up on their online behavior, while 42% said their parents don’t care what they do online. And even worse, only 17% of parents believed that the online world is as dangerous as the offline world, and almost 74% just admitted defeat and claimed that they do not have the time or energy to keep up with their kids; theysimply hope for the best.

Parents must stay in the know

Kids have grown up in an online world. They may be more online savvy than you, but giving up isn’t an option. You must challenge yourself to become familiar with the complexities of the online universe and stay educated on the various devices your kids are using to go online.

Here are some things you can do as parents to get more tech savvy:

Get digitally savvy: Whether you’re using a laptop, desktop, Mac, tablet, mobile, wired Internet, wireless, or software, learn it. Get to know the technology as good as or better than your kids.

Get on social media: By using your devices to communicate with the people in your life, you inevitably learn the hardware and software. This is a good way to learn a key method that your kids use to communicate.

Manage online reputations: Google yourself and your kids to see what’s being said. Teaching your kids what is and what is not appropriate online is a must these days. And as a good rule of thumb, you should teach your kids that things posted online stay there forever.

Get secure: There are more ways to scam people online than ever before. Your security intelligence is constantly being challenged, and your hardware and software are constant targets. Update your devices’ security software and invest in programs to manage and filter their access.

Two great online resources are www.wiredsafety.org and www.staysafeonline.org.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures

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