Chances are, if you are a parent in the modern world, you’ve worried about your kids safety while online. A scary new survey conducted by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education found some shocking information. Apparently, 40% of children have communicated with a stranger online.
The survey was directed at 4th to 8th graders, and was looking to find out some insights about kids’ behavior online. This included whether they knew about internet safety basics, if they used the internet without supervision (and where), and what kind of sites and apps they are using. The survey also looked at kids' communication with strangers.
Their results showed that 40% of kids had communicated with a stranger online. More concerning: 53% of those who had had given out their phone number, 15% had tried to meet the stranger in person, and 11% did meet the stranger. Of those who met the stranger, meeting spots were listed as the strangers home, or a public space such as the mall or a park. This is literally the stuff of nightmares for a parent.
The survey also showed that a large majority of kids were taught about internet safety (87%), however many kids chose to break the rules anyways. 29% of respondents admitted to using the internet in ways their parents wouldn't allow. Many of the respondents fessed up to doing things like going to adult websites, searching for adult topics, and watching adult movies.
This isn't that surprising when you consider the curiosity and impulsivity of youth. As much as parents want to protect and educate their kids when it comes to danger, the truth is that the internet can be a hazardous place for kids. It can be a wonderful resource, but it can also be like an open door to some pretty scary things as well.
The idea that kids are meeting strangers is concerning for various reasons. It's so important to try and talk to your kids and try and maintain an open line of communication so that if they get into trouble they know can talk to you.
Above all, it's imperative that we try and teach kids that when it comes to the world wide web, things might not always be what they appear to be, and to be careful.