According to a report from computer security company McAfee, the majority of teens are hiding their online activity with over 70% claiming to use one or more methods to conceal digital activity.
The easiest and most common way teens cover their tracks is by simply clearing their computer's browser history, according to McAfee over 50% of kids admit to this. Additionally teens have owned up to McAfee about hiding and deleting IM's and videos, lying about online activity, minimizing or closing windows when parents walk in or using a computer parents don't have access to.
What are teens trying to hide? According to the McAfee study, teens are hiding porn, cheating at school, hacking into others social media accounts, sharing sexy photos and even cyber bullying. Teens don't always understand the consequences of these behaviors and that their digital history can prevent them from getting into college and getting a job.
Here's what parents can do to take back the digital reins.
- Take advantage of the parental controls on all the computers and digital devices your teens has access to in your home.
iPhone and iPad: Settings > General > Restrictions > Switch "On/Off" down the list for content, games, web browsing and everything else you want to restrict.
Android: Google Play Store > Menu > Settings > User Controls > Content Filtering. Tick any of the boxes next to the ratings listed above that you think are appropriate.
Windows: Start (or Windows) button > Control Panel > User Accounts > Family Safety > Parental Controls. You can create new accounts for each teen, set time limits and control games and content.
Mac: Apple button > System Preferences > Parental Controls. You can create accounts for each teen, set time limits and control games and content.
When it comes to surfing the web, browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer have an Internet options folder where you can easily set up security safeguards and content filters for language, nudity, sex and violence. You can also search for help in your browser.
- Install parental control software or surveillance software on computers and digital devices. A few recommended by Mashable.com include free filter K9 Web Protection, as well as paid services like Net Nanny, Safe Eyes and SafetyWeb. According to the McAfee study, "Parents should be upfront with teens about monitors and controls implemented on their internet devices, as half of teens say they would think twice about their online activities if they knew parents were watching."
- Communication about technology is key to taking back the digital reins. According to McAfee, "Most parents insist they're in control when it comes to mentoring their teen's online behaviors. Yet, many teens believe their parents are in the dark." Parents, confident about technology or not, make the rules when it comes to digital devices, so set expectations and consequences. If your teen turns off the screen or quickly closes windows when you enter the room, it's time for another tech talk. Same thing goes for hiding their cell phone from you.
Following these simple steps will help keep your teen safe, even though they will likely tell you their life is over and how rough they have it. Trust me, your teen will survive, just like the rest of us grown ups did.
To read the full McAfee study click here.
First Coast News