With their favourite movies and music available through a host of mobile devices and ability to connect to people just a mouse click away, children are increasingly exchanging information indiscriminately in the virtual world exposing themselves to cyber exploits, a recent survey reveals.
A sample survey “How safe are Indian kids online?”, commissioned by global security tech firm McAfee and conducted across 10 cities in India revealed that 62 per cent of affluent children surveyed admitted to having shared personal information online.
“The threats are numerous, ranging from cyber bullying, stalking, abusing, sexual communications and advances to spams and scams,” says Anindita Mishra, Cybermum at McAfee India.
Ms. Mishra, a Pune-based freelance writer, teacher and mother of two has been roped in my McAfee to use the company platform to blog about the dangers children face online and ideas to steer clear of them.
The survey conducted in - Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune, covered 500 children and 496 parents.
Of the 500 affluent children having e-mail IDs, 67 per cent were 4-8 years old and 64 per cent having an account on social networking sites were 8-12 years old.
The finding showed that 58 per cent of the children, half of them between 4-8 years, admitted to sharing their home address and 40 per cent of them shared their photographs and 12 per cent even shared their parents’ credit card details on the Internet.
“Kids are using various devices to access the internet. While an average of 91 per cent surveyed kids across ccities use the PC, there is increasing adoption of devices like laptops (26 per cent) and mobile phones (31 per cent).
“Apart from homes, there are other access points such as cyber cafes, friends’ homes and school that kids use to access the internet,” says Ms. Mishra.
While the survey shows 32 per cent children were not aware of any online threats, 12 per cent children admitted to have been victims of some of the other form of cyber attacks.
Mumbai had the highest cyber bullying levels reported among children at 33 per cent.
“Parents can keep tab on the digital lifestyle of their children by using various software available in the market,” says Ms. Mishra.
Encrypted website blocking, instant monitoring and social networking filtering are some of the facilities offered by the software to help parents get a better insight to the digital lifestyles of their children.
McAfee, a subsidiary of global chip maker Intel, has unveiled a Family Protection software suite, which protects children of all ages from online risks and allows them to explore the internet safely.