Social networks are the most dangerous virtual ‘playground’ for children | Kaspersky Lab

Social networks are the most dangerous virtual ‘playground’ for children

03 Jun 2013
Virus News

Children made 52 million unauthorized attempts to use social networks in the past month

As we approach the long summer holidays, Kaspersky Lab would like to remind parents that at this time of year children will not only be spending more time outside – they’ll be using the Internet more as well. The web is a source of useful information and knowledge during the school year, but when used without restrictions can be quite a dangerous environment for little web-surfers. Different threats, from familiar viruses up to serious fraud, let alone content not intended for children’s eyes, can place your children – and even the whole family – in real danger.

Families now tend to have more and more devices which can access the Internet, which means it’s easier than ever for kids to get online – and harder than ever to control what they do there. According to research by B2B International conducted in April 2013 specially for Kaspersky Lab, each family owns two or three PCs or laptops (2.5 devices is the worldwide average), one or two smartphones (1.4 on average) and one  tablet (0.7 on average). Children use all of these devices to some extent or other, while Parental Control options are far from widely used.

Kaspersky Lab analyzed the response of the Parental Control modules incorporated in its protection products, and in the first five months of 2013 it found that the following potentially dangerous resources are most attractive for children in the Internet:

  • social networks (31.26%);
  • pornographic and erotic websites (16.83%);
  • online shops (16.65%);
  • chats and forums (8.09%);
  • web-mail (7.39%); resources containing illegal software (3.77%);
  • casual games (3.19%).

Other inappropriate resources such as sites about weapons or drugs, gambling sites and e-payment systems etc – represented about 0.8-2% of responses from Parental Control modules.

The websites which were most popular with children, January – May 2013

In absolute terms, within the last month (May 2013) Parental Control modules registered more than 52 million attempts to visit social networks, and more than 25 million attempts to access pornographic sites.

This reflects an interesting shift, which sees pornography drop to second place behind social networks. In addition, the Top 3 for the first months of 2013 also included online stores. We can assume that children look at these stores in search of toys and similar products. In these circumstances parents need to be especially careful: if children know where their parents keep their bank cards, they can use them to make unplanned purchases. Moreover, children could fall victim to fake Internet shops created by cybercriminals.

However, children’s preferences vary from country to country. In the USA, the “Pornography and erotica” category leads the pack with 22.02%; online stores are in second place with 19.50%; next come social networks with 18.88%, enjoying almost the same popularity. 
A similar situation exists in the UK, where the top 3 are exactly the same: pornography sites with 23.27%, online stores (19.59%), and social networks (16.14%). The only noteworthy fact is that children in the UK prefer casual games (5.94%) to chats and forums (4.84%).
German children are the most likely to seek out online pornography (25.66%). Next, German children prefer online stores (20.68%) and social networks (18.29%).

The situation in Japan has nothing in common with other countries. The younger generation in this country tends to look for sites in the “Chats and forums” category (34.25%). Apparently, these sites act as a good substitute for social networks, which are down in fourth position (10.59%). Besides, many popular Japanese web resources are created with tools designed for creating forums and blogs. Pornography and erotic sites take second position with 23.28%, online stores are in third with 16.89%.

In Brazil, Social Networks (22.34%) lead the pack. In common with many other countries, Brazilian social networks are followed by pornographic sites (18.91%) and online stores (16.76%).

“As always, prevention is better than cure. This is the principle that our Parental Control technology follows. In the modern world, access to any type of information has become easier than ever before. At the same time, children are especially vulnerable, and their outlooks are by nature naïve. Therefore, tools to protect children from inappropriate web content should become obligatory,” said Konstantin Ignatyev, Kaspersky Lab's Web Content Analysts Group Manager. “In Kaspersky Lab’s products, Parental Control features are integrated into the newest protection technologies, so users receive a comprehensive solution which ensures a secure online experience for children and at the same time prevents possible infections, attacks and other online threats.”

Parental Control in software products is convenient in that it enables parents to shield their children from unwanted content in a tactful and intelligent manner without blocking web access altogether. Using simple tools, parents can configure protection features to meet their needs and the needs of their children. In particular, Parental Control allows parents to restrict access to specific sites and programs, or to the entire Internet. Similarly, parents can set timetables for their children’s computer use: at an inappropriate time, the computer simply won’t switch on, so children won’t be distracted from their homework or other important things.

The Parental Control module includes a complete feature list to protect children while they use a computer and are online. These features are available in the following Kaspersky Lab products:

Kaspersky Lab has also released dedicated applications for smartphones and Tablet PCs in response to their huge popularity with youngsters: Parental Control (Safe Browser) for iOS and Parental Control for Android. These applications can be downloaded from official app stores for the appropriate mobile platforms.

The full version of the article “What are children doing online?” can be viewed at securelist.com

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