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Symantec Study Finds Parents Unaware Of Kids’ Web Activities

New York — A recent study commissioned by the PC security firm Symantec showed a shocking gulf between what parents think their children are doing online and what their children are actually doing.

The Harris Interactive poll, taken in June, surveyed 2,246 adults and 1,107 kids between 8 and 17, found the youngsters spending more than twice as much time online as their parents thought. Additionally, the many adults had no idea how complete the personal contact information children today casually post to social networking sites.

Almost 50 percent of the children reported having their own site on a site such as MySpace, Facebook or Friendster.

Interestingly, despite the disconnect that is apparent from the study, 88 percent of the adults surveyed said keeping their children safe online was of paramount importance. Also, 76 percent were worried that their children might see inappropriate content online or be solicited in some fashion.

The children polled indicated that these parental concerns are based in reality:

  • 21 percent reported having an experience with inappropriate material while online;
  • 18 percent have experienced cyber-bullying;
  • 23 percent have had an online encounter with a stranger on the Web, with 7 percent stating they have actually met with someone they met online; and
  • 20 percent said they wish their parents were more interested in using the Internet.

Symantec used these findings as the foundation for its first ever Norton Connected and Protected Town Hall, held in New York on Aug. 2. About 75 youths and their parents participated in the meeting during which they discussed Internet safety and the role the Web plays in children’s lives.