Teenage Online Behaviour Consistent With Offline Behaviour
It appears that teenagers are getting wiser about how they conduct themselves on online. While the risks are just a prevalent as ever, a majority of teens seem to be making wise choices.
However as with most arenas of life, more than a few teens have regrets about choices they have made online.
A survey of over 61,000 young people from 33 countries by online game site Habbo Hotel and internet security Norton has found that today’s teens feel they are savvy when it comes to their own online safety. But it also shows that feelings are not always accurate representations of reality.
These results confirm to me that we are starting to see the normalising of online participation into everyday teenage and family life. This is not a new phenomena, merely confirmation of an observed, and inevitable pattern.
Although I haven’t done a rigorous analysis, the responses to this survey about online behaviour appear to be mirroring survey results about many common teenage pastimes in the offline world. Most teens online are wise, some are not, and some regret the choices they make – just like the rest of life. A majority witness or experience bullying online, while some don’t – just like other parts of teen life.
Likewise a majority of parents seem to be taking an interest and setting boundaries, while a significant minority are more lax about what their teens get up to online. In the same way some parents have differing standards of supervision and interest in their teens behaviour in the offline world.
It appears clear that the messages about being wise and taking responsibility for personal behavior online are sinking in, with many teens taking personally responsibility for their online safety.
Parents however seem to be taking a bit longer to catch on as to what it means to parent teens online. Significant numbers of teenagers reporting little in the way of rules or supervision coming from their parents.
Some of the results that caught my attention from the global results pool:
- 44% claim to know the internet better than their parents. However 43% claim to have unknowingly downloaded malicious software or a virus to their computer at least once.
- 39% of teens questioned felt that they themselves have the responsibility to ensure their own online safety.
- 97% of teens are unwilling to share their home address online and 96% unwilling to share their phone number, while 36% reveal their real names.
- 32% of teens have regretted sharing personal details online.
- 24% of teens regularly witness online bullying.
- 24% of children aged eight and under are using the internet without supervision.
Australian teens seem reasonably representative of teens worldwide. When compared to the global averages, Australia teens were not to far from the mean across most categories and questions. If anything, Australian teens feel safer online than many of their overseas counterparts.
Below is a summary of the responses from Australian teens.
- 60% don’t believe it is safe to tell a password to a friend they trust.
- 46% of Australian teens will never open an attachment or click on a link from someone that is unfamiliar to them.
- (32%) have regretted at least once posting details such as their hometown, school or images of themselves and friends online.
- 50% are happy to make their age available online, over a third 35%their real name, and 24% their date of birth.
- 32% of teens indicated they have at least once met up with someone they initially met online privately.
- 31% believe they that would give their IM account or email to privately chat with someone nice they met online.
Access & Awareness
- 53% of Australian teens believe that their parents/guardians do care about what they do online.
- 51% of teens admitted to occasionally hiding details of their online activities from their parents.
- 57% of teens said that they are allowed to use their computers in their bedrooms.
- 25% of teens said they were allowed to use the internet unsupervised at home when they were eight years of age.
- 32% of teens said their parents never deliberately limited their online use.
- 27% have never witnessed online bullying against someone they know in real life.
- 63% of Australian teens having at least once seen online photos or videos of people their age that have been altered, have nasty comments or somehow embarrassing.
- 66% Australian teens have at least once found out that a friend they trust has spoken behind their backs online, 46% have found out at least a few times.
- 22% of Australian teens revealed that they are sometimes re-directed to a webpage with inappropriate content, instead of the site they were expected to visit.