How does your family use the Internet?
By Sara Curtis
on July 29, 2013
Okay, show of hands:
how many of you have watched, in awe, as
your seven-year-old beat your high score
at Angry Birds, or created a music playlist
on your iPod. “We are parenting the fi rst
generation of truly online kids,” says Lynn
Hargrove, Director of Consumer Solutions
for Norton by Symantec, a maker of antivirus
and computer safety software. “They’re
growing up with technology. They don’t
fear it. It’s how they communicate.” From
Smartphones to Facebook, iPads to YouTube,
texting to Twitter to Instagram, welcome to
the world of the 21st century child.
Like most great human advances, communications
technology is a double-edged
sword: it’s both marvellous and terrifying.
How are parents dealing with it? In partnership
with Norton, we surveyed more than
1,600 parents from across the country to find
out. The answers were illuminating and farreaching,
but one thing is clear: online safety
is a major issue among Canadian families,
and parents need to be involved and informed
about what their kids are doing. “It’s
no longer acceptable to say ‘My kid knows
more than me,’” says Lynn. “Parents need
to become educated and there needs to be
an ongoing discussion in every home about
technology use and how to stay safe.”
How do you establish safe cyber activity in your house?
For parents of children 5-7: Have a list of safe websites they can visit.
For parents of children 7-12: Have a set time limit and use parental monitoring software.
For parents of teens: Regularly chat about safe online activities.
Sit down with your child
and ask questions like ‘What
interests you?’, ‘What websites
do you like?’ ‘Who is on your
chat list?’ Once you build a
dialogue of trust, you’re able
to get to questions like ‘Have
you ever been somewhere on
the Web that has made you
uncomfortable?’ The key is
to open the door slowly and
- Parental control
software is the first line
of defense. Make sure
there is a password
on your child’s phone.
Simple things like that
can go a long way. It’s
about creating layers of
- Teach your kids about
safety. You wouldn’t send
them out to the mall
without talking to them
first, so don’t send them
onto the Internet without
first preparing them.
Left to their own devices...
Kids ages 5-7
want tablets, while kids
13 and over pressure
their parents for
“High speed internet seems like a necessity
for school-aged children. The pressure to
get a tablet, iPad etc., is not from my own
children, but pressure is from
other students who are allowed to use their
electronics during school. This has created
a clear divide between those who can afford
them and those who can’t. Very sad.”
- Lori, Cranbrook, B.C.
“All the kids have them – it’s hard
to tell your child no. Especially if their
homework plan is online. My child is 10 and
has to consult the Internet for homework,
and the teacher has a website for the class
that he needs to refer to as well.”
- Jennifer, Montreal
What is parents’
biggest fear of
kids being online?
For parents of kids 5-12, it's exposure to indecent material.
For parents of teens, it's racking up charges online.
Other fears? Giving out too much personal information, cyberbullying and online predators.
Identities are bought and sold
every day on the black market.
Your child’s identity is as
valuable as anyone else’s. A lot
of kids have their own bank
accounts, credit cards – keeping
their info private, and their
identity safe, is paramount.
Do you feel you
have control over
your child’s online
Six out of 10 parents of kids 5-7 say yes.
That number drops to less than 3 out of 10 for parents of kids 13+.
of parents of kids 13+
do not know their child’s
of parents who
have kids over the age
of 13 feel they have no
control over their child’s
“I just hope that I have instilled the
right things in them to keep them
safe, and that I have the lines of
communication open so they
know I am here to listen.”
- David, Edmonton
“It’s difficult to monitor when our
home has wireless and smartphones
allow unlimited access to the Web.”
- Cassidy, Vancouver
Parents really feel unsure about
what their kids are doing online,
because they don’t necessarily have
control. Children have access on
these devices at school, at the library
– you can no longer limit Internet
access. We are a connected society,
and that’s great, but the onus is
on parents to teach online safety,
and what can happen if you don’t
obey the rules.
More than three quarters of parents consider cyberbullying to be a major problem.
“Kids can no longer hide from their bullies.
They leave school, and get bullied online.
Home is no longer a safe place.”
- Ravina, Surrey. B.C.
“With my children, we tell them to THINK:
is it True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it
Necessary, is it Kind. If what they are going
to say, respond to, or post meets this criteria,
it’s OK. If not, better not say anything.”
- Kevin, Bedford, N.S.
to read what ParentsCanada Editor Janice Biehn and Lynn Hargove of Norton by Symantec said about the survey on Canada AM.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/September 2013.
By Sara Curtis|
July 29, 2013