Saturday, June 26, 2010

McAfee Report on Teen Online Behaviour...Interesting

McAfee, the Internet security company, has just released a report called The Secret Online Lives of Teens and, if you're a parent of a teen, it's confirmed some underlying suspicions and fears you may have about all the time they spend online.

The report found that today's teen, the first generation of digital natives, spends a lot of time using the Internet to play games, communicate / socialize with others, and navigate content. But it also found that these digital natives are so comfortable with the Internet that engage in behavior which most of us would consider risky or problematic, such as sharing personal information in chat rooms and downloading programs or content from unreliable sources:
Although teens are heavy Internet users, it’s still surprising that 27% say that they have accidentally infected their home computer with a virus or other malware, and 14% say that they shared their passwords with friends.
McAfee commissioned this study conducted online by Harris Interactive from May 4 to May 17, 2010. The study surveyed 1,357 ten to seventeen year-olds in the U.S. on:
  • how they use the Internet
  • what kind of content and media they view and download, and
  • their level of engagement in risky online behaviors
Here are some of the key findings:
  • Half of kids surveyed say that they have been using the Internet for five years or more, and 58% consider themselves heavy users who access the Internet six or seven days a week
  • Communicating and downloading content are two primary uses of the Internet by young people, but education also plays an important role. Nearly 80% say they use the Web to do research for school assignments
  • Gaming is also a popular activity, with 61% of kids saying they play games online
  • 81% of 16- to 17-year-olds report having at least one social networking account
  • 53% view and download media online
The report also emphasizes the need to address cyberbullying, and while we do believe this is a very real problem which, in the short term, is only going to get worse, it's quite obvious (and somewhat self-serving, to say the least) why an Internet security company would want to emphasize cyberbullying as a discussion point.