As a “risky behaviour”, more than half of Indian teens meet people in real life whom they found online, security solutions provider McAfee said today.
This “risky behaviour” is the highest in Indian teens and tweens compared to countries like Australia, Singapore, the US and Germany.
“Today, the teens and tweens are online for a longer duration of time on their smartphones and tablets. They are very comfortable operating in the online world, yet the risks have never been greater,” Melanie Duca, APAC Consumer Marketing Director, McAfee (part of Intel Security) told reporters here.
As many as 92% of Indian youths were found to have shared private information online despite being aware that this is risky, according to a report.
Sharing email IDs, phone numbers and home addresses on social networks and other websites poses a risk to the identity, but that does not seem to deter a majority of Indian youths as 70% of them share such details freely.
These shocking numbers are part of the annual study — named Tweens, Teens and Technology 2014 — conducted by Intel’s security arm McAfee, which examines online behaviour and social networking habits of Indian tweens (8-12 years) and teens (13-17 years).
The number of youngsters that trust the virtual world and interact with strangers registered a whopping increase of 36% this year, to 53% from 17% last year, according to the study.
In fact, as many as 51% of those polled do not care about their online privacy at all, according to the report. In the same manner, they also do not care about their location being shared as 63% of youth do not turn off their location or GPS services across apps.
McAfee polled a total of 1,422 youngsters across seven cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune for this study.
Another shocking revelation from the study is that 52% of the Indian youths access their social media accounts at schools, with tweens (57%) being more active than the teens (47%). Shockingly, even though the minimum age to register on social networking sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tinder, Tumblr, and Vine is 13, children aged 10-12 years access them more regularly than teenagers.
Another big concern is that more than 60% of youngsters create fake profiles to be accepted virtually. Citing an example, Dr Sunil Mittal, a psychiatrist, shared how a 14-year-old girl set up a fake profile, projecting herself as someone totally different just to be accepted socially. She eventually tried to commit suicide when her second profile too was not ‘socially accepted’. Mittal said a big reason for such behaviour was identity crisis which happens when children start idolizing through movies and advertisements.
Lack of online safety leads to consequences such as cyberbullying, which has surfaced with alarming figures. According to the McAfee report, two out of three polled youngsters had some experience with cyberbullying and an overwhelming number said they would not know what to do if they were harassed online.
Whatever goes on in the lives of teens virtually has a spillover effect in their real lives too. About 46% of youths have gotten into trouble at home or school as a result of being on a social networking website, said the report.
According to McAfee researchers, parents need to play a bigger, more proactive role in protecting their children from the perils of virtual world. While 46% of the polled parents said they have had a conversation with their kids about online safety, as many as 52% said they simply didn’t care, as per the report. Lack of tech savviness is the biggest reason behind this ignorance.
One way to protect children from cyberrisks is to be involved in their lives and make sure that the communication lines with them always remain open, feel the experts. Parents also need to know about the various devices and latest social networks their kids are using.
According to experts, the parents must have access to children’s social media accounts and passcodes to devices at all times.”Parents must not be very strict and try to be friends with their children so that they are comfortable enough to share their problems with them,” says Anindita Mishra, McAfee Cybermum (a title given by the company).
“Teens love it when you treat them like an adult or ask for their opinion and eventually they start trusting you too,” she adds.
She also says that it is highly important to make children aware about the threats the virtual world poses and it has become very important for schools to conduct sessions on this issue.
Source : TOI