Growing up online: What kids hide from their parents

Our children might conceal something they do on the Internet from us. What can we do about it?

We often look at the past and have memories of a time when our worries were smaller and our lives were simpler. But looking back over the last 20 years, it’s hard to argue that life has become more complicated and the worries much greater. Just ask the parent of a child or teenager.

Today’s technology, and the constant connection to an infinitely large world it has created, has made the world’s hardest job — parenting — even harder.

This trend is something that we at Kaspersky Lab often talks about. We also decided to conduct some research as to how this constant connectivity impacts the way that this generation communicates and leverages the technology in their daily lives. This research was called Growing Up Online.

In this first part of the research, we saw results as to what kids conceal from their parents. Now as a parent, this study is somewhat alarming.

The global survey showed that 57% of 8-16-year olds surveyed have hidden something related to their online activities from their parents (this drops to 53% in the 14-16 age bucket). That is over 50%. Let that sink in for a second.


Now with that said, perhaps a bigger wake-up call in the survey data is that up to 70% of parents are unaware that their kids conceal potentially damaging online activities from them. These activities range from bad content to cyberbullying or talking to the wrong people online.

Despite that number, all hope is not lost. Of the children surveyed globally, 75% would feel safer if they could talk to their parents about the dangers that lurk online.

So what can we do?

The biggest thing is to educate ourselves as parents and find the correct tools to teach our kids about the dangers that lie online. This could also include taking steps to let our kids mentor us on how to use a certain site. In a sense, we need to make sure that we’re role models not only in life but also online. It is not the birds and bees talk, but is just as important.

We can also look at offering tools that help us monitor the online activities of our kids online, like Kaspersky Safe Kids. Now tools like this are not to look at every URL or chatroom our kids visit, but rather to alert us when they are going to a place that they probably should not be visiting.

This should also be done in a honest manner where your kids know you will be looking and if they go out of bounds, that a talk can happen. At the same time, our kids are becoming adults and have to learn about things on their own. As parents, it is our job to educate them as to why site X,Y, Z is not good for them to be at for various reasons (piracy, explicit content, etc.).

While there are some numbers within the survey that can make you hyperventilate, they should serve as a good wake-up call for parents. They offer up the opportunity to stay connected with our kids and continue to teach them about right and wrong. That connection is invaluable and can help write the playbook for their future-selves for raising our future grandkids.

Read the full report here.