Parents must tackle cyber-bullying through education & control [The Information Daily, by Raj Samani, 23/11/2013 ].

Children today are growing up in a purely digital world and many parents are struggling to keep up.

Whilst there are countless positive benefits to the internet, many parents are concerned about how safe it really is for their children.

Yet parents themselves may be inadvertently exposing their children to cyber-bullying and inappropriate behaviour through lack of education and controls.

We have been working with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to understand what children are really doing online, and how their parents are – or sadly in many cases aren’t – managing it.

Our research shows much of children’s internet use takes place away from the watchful eye of a parent; 53 per cent of children go online in their own room, 46 per cent through a games console and 66 per cent on a personal smartphone.

Almost half of parents are actually setting up their child’s social networking profiles with many parents with children under the age of 13 having set up a Facebook account for their child, despite the site’s age restriction.

This is despite a third of parents admitting to not having discussed online safety with their child and even fewer having installed parental controls across all internet-enabled devices.

This access-all-areas approach to the internet for children from parents, combined with lack of supervision, controls and education means that many children are ill-prepared to understand and deal with issues they face while using the internet, from grooming and cyber-bullying to privacy violations and exposure to explicit materials.

It is clear from our research that parents require more support to help them to keep up with rapidly changing technology and to understand how they can keep their children safe online.

Nearly a third of parents admitted that better personal knowledge of the internet and social networks would make them feel better equipped to keep their kids safe online.

One in six parents said their own knowledge of the internet and social media platforms is not adequate to match the online behaviours of their child.

Companies like McAfee are working hard to make sure the internet is as safe as possible, but this research shows a clear need for better education on the issues surrounding online safety for both children and parents.

Children need to understand what is and isn’t appropriate online behaviour online, and know what to do if they feel they are being cyber-bullied or being approached to do inappropriate activity.

Parents need to be empowered to set the right security and privacy settings for their family – across all devices – and have the right conversations with their kids about what is and isn’t suitable online.

Addressing this issue is a major priority for McAfee and we are working closely with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to give children and parents the tools they need to better protect themselves and their families online.