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Parents underestimate the risks for kids online

Global survey shows parents underestimate risk for kids online

Parents underestimate the risks that kids face online! The biggest gaps is for hate speech, closely followed by threats of violence, exposure to suicide and self-harm content, and cyberbullying and abuse. 39% of teens experience hate speech online while only 29% of parents think their teen is having such an experience. 19% of teens have experienced a threat of violence while only 11% of parents reported the same.

These are conclusions from Microsoft’s Global Online Safety Survey 2023 and published in connection with February 7 that is the International Safer Internet Day.

69% of people in the survey had experienced an online risk in the last year. The most common risks encountered globally were misinformation and disinformation, and personal risks (including cyberbullying, hate speech and threats of violence). 

Respondents in the UK (50%) and Germany (56%) were least likely to experience an online risk, while respondents in the Philippines (86%) and Chile (79%) were most likely to experience an online risk, writes Courtney Gregoire, Chief Digital Safety Officer, in a blog post.

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“The research found that teens experienced online risks at a higher rate than parents believed: 74% of teens reported experiencing an online risk, whereas 62% of parents believed their teen had encountered a risk online – a 12-point difference.”

“Teens also worry more about threats of violence in the future than do parents.

After experiencing an online risk 60% of teens talked to someone about it: 71% of those teens talked to their parents; 32% talked to friends; and 14% talked to another adult who wasn’t their parent.”

The report says that parents generally viewed safety features as effective tools to help keep their children safe online, and 81% of parents report using at least one. Parents of younger children ages 6-12 were much more likely than parents of teens to use platform-based safety tools. 

Tools that enabled parents to review friend/follow requests (71%) and limits to online spending (69%) were believed by parents to be most effective.

More than 5 billion people use the internet, according to market research firm Statista. The typical internet user spends more than 40% of their waking life online and more than two hours a day on social networking.

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The speed and scale of internet connectivity can be a force for good, but to realize this potential, the internet needs to be a safe and secure space for all individuals, says The World Economic Forum’s Global Coalition for Digital Safety.

Unicef says global estimates suggest that one in three internet users is a child under 18 years of age. Some 80% of children report feeling in danger of sexual abuse or exploitation online and one in three children is exposed to sexual content online. 

The Internet Watch Foundation, which works to tackle child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online, found over 250,000 websites containing or advertising CSAM in 2021, a 64% increase from 2020.


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