Tech-smart teens outsmart their worried parents [ Herald Sun, by Greg Thom, 22/8/2011]

VULNERABLE: Australia is ‘ill-edquipped’ to deal with cyber attacks. Picture: Simon Cocksedge Source: The Courier-Mail

VICTORIAN parents fear their lack of technological savvy is putting their kids at risk online.

Research shows more than a third of parents of children aged 10-17 admit their offspring’s tech skills exceed their own.

Experts fear the knowledge gap is convincing many parents they are incapable of understanding how their kids might expose themselves to online risks such as cyber-bullying, sexting and ID theft.

The news comes as the Baillieu Government announced an inquiry into the teen sexting explosion and whether state laws were up with technology.

The inaugural Telstra Cyber-Safety Indicator, to be released today, also showed:

MORE than 87 per cent of young people use the internet at least once a day, with almost half spending at least three hours a week on social-networking sites;

SEXTING is a headache for 62 per cent of parents, who are worried about their children sending sexual messages, photos or videos via mobile phone;

HALF of all parents are frustrated much of their kids’ technology use happens “under the radar”, making it hard to monitor;

ONE in five parents have stumbled across their child accessing inappropriate material online; and

MORE than 12 per cent said their child had been bullied or harassed online.

The online survey by Pure Profile of 1255 people Australia-wide found almost a quarter of parents worried about their children posting personal information on the net. Another 15 per cent stressed over who their kids talked to and what they discussed.

Telstra Internet Trust and Safety Officer Darren Kane said it was important for parents to remember they did not need to be experts to keep their kids safe online.

“Parents should approach their child’s development in the online world as they would in the offline world – by teaching them about right and wrong,” he said.

“It takes a combination of social and technical skills to be safe online.”

More than 69 per cent of parents surveyed set rules about personal information their kids could share.

But 15 per cent said they had no rules governing internet use.

Cyber safety expert Robyn Treyvaud said many parents were abrogating their responsibilities by hiding behind ignorance.