Teenagers are more likely to hack computers than smoke, says study

Today’s teenagers are more likely to rebel by hacking computers than by smoking or having sex, according to a University College London study.

However, Kaspersky Lab research revealed that the issue could stem from even earlier in life, with the average three-year-old spending more than four hours a week with what amounts to a ‘digital babysitter’.

Despite this, only 13% of parents install online security on their home devices, even though our connected lifestyles mean that children are only ever three seconds away from online danger.

Kids are only ever three seconds from online danger at home as parents unintentionally neglect to protect young children, according to the report.

Protecting children

Parents are not toddler-proofing their online world, with a huge 87% of parents admitting that they don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online.

The report found that because of the high amounts of connected devices now in homes, children are on average spending over four hours a week watching video content online – and are only ever three seconds away from danger.

The Kaspersky Lab investigation reveals that 75% of parents put up a stairgate before their child turns three and 57% put locks on their kitchen cupboards, but only a very small proportion of 13% restrict how much time that children of this age group spend online.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, commented: “Parents of young children place high importance on protecting their children from physical harm but often overlook the importance of putting measures in place to protect them when they’re online.

Inappropriate material

“Exposure to inappropriate material can have a significant emotional impact on children so we need to help parents understand what they can do to keep their children safe when they’re online.

“Talking to your children about how to be safe online from a young age – in the same way you would teach them about stranger danger or how to cross the road safely – is a good start. We also advise parents to always install parental controls on all of their devices as a first step to keeping everyone in the family safe online.”

The average child spends 40 minutes per day, or 4.6 hours a week, watching online video content on a mobile device. Despite this, only 13% of parents install online security on their smartphone, laptop or tablet.

Furthermore, 49% of respondents admitted to never reviewing the default settings to prevent the child viewing inappropriate material.

Freedom to explore

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, explained: “Children are fortunate in that the technology available to them enables them to easily swipe and click to access entertainment or information from such a young age.

We want to ensure that this freedom to explore the world can continue without sacrificing their emotional safety. The good news is that having parental controls in place and reviewing the default settings per app are two very small steps that we, as parents, can take.”

Kaspersky Lab’s top tips for protecting your family online are:

  • This may seem obvious, but supervise your child’s internet use. Encourage them to visit and stay on websites you’re familiar with.
  • If you have any concerns, look at their browsing history
  • Be sure to know about any password-protected sites they may be accessing and ask them to share their login details with you.
  • Encourage your child to be open about what they are doing online and who they are socialising with.
  • Promote a culture of safety within the home and talk about the possible dangers which exist.
  •  Use parental controls to block access to sites you don’t want your child looking at as part of your online security product – it’s an easy way to avoid disaster.
  • Review the default settings on each app that your child uses to ensure that the camera or microphone, for example, aren’t needlessly turned on as these can pose a threat.

Written from press release by Leah Alger