Half of City kids will do anything for social media 'likes'

Survey by McAfee; 48 pc tweens meet their online friends

Half of City kids will do anything for social media 'likes'

More and more children are gaining easy access to the Internet, but not many of them are fully aware of the dangers of cyberspace.

Many children in Bengaluru are increasingly sharing personal information online and meeting people whom they encounter on the Internet for the first time, a survey shows.

The annual ‘Tweens, Teens and Technology, 2014’ report carried out by McAfee, the computer security software company, has found alarming trends of Internet usage and behaviour among the 211 children aged 8-17 it surveyed in Bengaluru. Four other Indian cities—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad—were part of the survey.

Sixty-one per cent of children in Bengaluru admitted to posting personal contact details online, such as their phone number, home address and e-mail ID.

At least 67 per cent of the surveyed children spent, on an average, five hours on the Internet. Almost half of them, 48 per cent, admitted to meeting people in person whom they encountered on the Internet for the first time.

With the growing popularity of social networking websites, children were found to be spending more time on such platforms and were also sensitive to any activity on them.
In Bengaluru, 55 per cent of the surveyed children admitted to feeling more accepted on such platforms than in person. Fifty-three per cent said they were ready to put themselves in danger to see more activity on their posts in the form of likes, shares and comments. Nearly 43 per cent children admitted to accessing the Internet and social media accounts in school. This percentage was about 55 in other cities.

The trends are worrisome but not limited to Bengaluru which actually fares better than the four other cities. In Delhi, as many as 77 per cent of the children surveyed admitted to posting personal information online, followed by Hyderabad (74 per cent), Chennai (71 per cent) and Mumbai (70 per cent).

Mumbai had the highest percentage (65) of children who met people in person whom they encountered online for the first time, followed by Chennai (60 per cent) and Hyderabad (57 per cent).

The survey also found less involvement of parents in controlling such online habits of their children. So far as parental guidance is concerned, only 61 per cent of the children in Bengaluru said their parents controlled their usage of gadgets like mobile phones and computer. As many as 58 per cent of the respondents said they did not tell their parents about their online activities, while 59 per cent said their parents did not have the time to check on their online behaviour. A good percentage of children across cities also admitted to having cyberbullied others.

Kushi Kushalappa from Enfold, an organisation that works in the field of personal safety education, said: “A parent might think that they can keep a child occupied by giving him/her access to computers and smartphones with Internet connectivity. But giving too much access to the Internet and social networking sites hampers a child’s social skills and makes them vulnerable to child sexual offenders who usually visit such platforms and use the Internet to pick up children.”

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