Teens share alarming amounts of personal info online

McAfee released “The Secret Life of Teens,” a survey that surveyed 955 U.S. 13-17 year olds (including 593 teens ages 13-15 and 362 teens aged 16-17) and reveals the online behavior of American teens and areas of concern for parents.

“Keeping kids safe no longer only means teaching them about the dangers of alcohol or how to deal with a school bully,” said Tracy Mooney,McAfee Chief Cyber Security Mom. “This report is a wake-up call to the real dangers our teens face when they make themselves vulnerable online.”

The study revealed that despite news headlines, teens are providing more information than they should with strangers:

  • 69 percent of 13-17 year olds have updated their status on social networking sites to include their physical location
  • 28 percent of teens chat with people they don’t know in the offline world
  • Girls are more likely than boys to chat with people online that they don’t know in the offline world, (32 percent vs. 24 percent), and 13-15 year old girls (16 percent) are more likely than boys the same age (7 percent) to have given a description of what they look like.

Cyberbullying has made media headlines several times this year, with tales of teens and tweens harassing each other online- with tragic consequences. One-in-three teens knows someone who has had mean or hurtful information posted about them online – like sending anonymous emails, spreading rumors online, forwarding private information without someone’s permission or purposely posting mean or hurtful information about someone online.

  • 14 percent of 13-17 year olds admit to having engaged in some form of cyberbullying behavior in 2010
  • 22 percent say they wouldn’t know what to do if they were cyberbullied.

Teens have more options to get online than ever before. “It’s almost impossible to keep up with how my kids get online,” continued Mooney. “It’s not like keeping the home computer in the living room is the answer anymore – you have to educate your kids to be safe while they’re accessing the Web from their friends’ houses, or on their phone – away from my supervision.”

  • 87 percent of teens go online somewhere other than at home
  • 54 percent access from their friends’ or relatives’ houses
  • 30 percent of teens access the Web through a phone and 21 percent through a video game system
  • 23 percent of kids go online anywhere with an open Wi-Fi signal.

Approximately two in five teens say they don’t tell their parents what they do while they are online (42 percent) and that they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching (36 percent). In an effort to further conceal online behavior, teens admit to the following:

  • 38 percent of teens close or minimize the browser when their parents enter the room
  • 32 percent of teens clear the browser history when they are done using the computer
  • 55 percent of 13-17 year olds hide what they do online from parents.

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