You may have seen the news last week stating that the Federal government has launched a new cybersafety initiative for children. Developed by Life Education and McAfee, the program will be rolled out to 3,500 primary schools nation wide. Prime Minister Julia Gillard explains:

We have taught our kids generation after generation about how to be streetwise and how to face up to stranger danger. If I had a dollar for every time my mother lectured me on the way out about not getting in cars with people you didn’t know and not talking to strangers, I would be a far wealthier woman.

So generation after generation we have taught our kids about the dangers that they might encounter in the world that they inhabit and live in.

Now we’ve got to teach our kids about new dangers in a new environment in the cyber world.

We know many parents worry a great deal about cyber bullying, about the kind of bullying that follows you from the school gates into your home, that never gives you a break, that is there even when you are on school holidays or weekends, that is there even in the middle of the night because kids wake up and check their devices.

So I’m pleased that today we will be releasing new guidelines for social networking sites which commits companies such as Facebook and Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft to work in accordance with these protocols. And these companies have agreed to make this commitment.

Read the press release here.

Emma Watson named ‘most dangerous’ search

Harry Potter star Emma Watson was recently named by McAfee as the most dangerous celebrity to search for. What does this mean? McAfee explains:

In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links.  As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.

So how can you avoid being at risk? Apart from downloading virus detecting software such as McAfee, savvy internet searching helps. Look at URLs before clicking on links. Do they seem reputable? Also, try subscribing to reputable sites such as:

G+ tips

McAfee, the security company, has posted tips on Google+ from the point of view of a mother. Tips include:

1)If your13 year old wants to join G+, give permission only after helping him/her to join the teen circle

2) Install security software like McAfee Total Protection so that you can exercise parental controls and receive alerts on their online activities

3) Find out more about G+, like circles, hangouts, and who can see the posts or contact the teens

4) Set sharing and chatting limits in collaboration with your child. You must simultaneously decide on penalties for breach of rule for it implies a breach of trust

Obviously McAfee want to sell more copies of their security software, however, if you have a child/young adult on G+, it’s worth checking out the whole article here.

Study reports on teenagers’ online behaviour

A few days ago Mashable reported on McAfee’s study into the online behaviour of teenagers. Although US based, this gives us a reasonable idea of how Australian teenagers are using the internet.

  •  70% of teens are hiding their online behavior from their parents, up from 45% in 2010. What exactly teens are hiding runs the gamut, but across the board parents are in the dark about most of their kids’ online activity. 
  • For example, 48.1% of teens admitted to looking up assignments and test answers online, while 77.2% of their parents said they don’t worry about their kids cheating in school.
  • And while 32% of teens surveyed have accessed pornographic content online, only 12% of their parents thought they had.
  • Similarly, 51% of teens reported that they have hacked someone’s social media account and 31% reported pirating movies and music. Meanwhile, less than 1 in 10 parents surveyed were aware that their children engaged in these illegal activities.
  • The study found that teens are getting creative with how they hide their online content and activity—a majority of teens (53%) regularly clear their browser history to keep their parents out of the loop. Twenty-four percent of teens went so far as to either create private email addresses unknown to their parents or create duplicate/fake social media profiles.
  • Despite an overwhelming sentiment of “not my kid” denial, parents are stepping up their game with online monitoring in an attempt to keep their kids out of trouble. Many are setting parental controls (49%), obtaining email and social network passwords (44%) and even using location-based devices to keep track of teens (10%). Still, nearly a quarter of parents surveyed admitted that they are so overwhelmed with technology that they can’t monitor their children’s online behaviors and are simply hoping for the best.
  • Other key findings of the study included statistics indicating a rise in cyberbullying, and Facebook proves to be the epicenter. Sixty-two percent of teens have witnessed cruel behavior online, and 93% of them say that it took place on Facebook.

Read more information from Mashable here and McAfee’s whole report here.