Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid

January 25, 2006 07:58 ET

UNTANGLING THE WEB: THE FACTS ABOUT KIDS AND THE INTERNET

More than 50% of teens have seen inappropriate content & 1/3 of teens have been asked to share personal information online; Canadian parents underestimate the extent teens encounter "risky" situations Attention: Education Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, INTERNET & KIDS--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 25, 2006) - According to a recent online poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Microsoft Canada, there is a significant gap between what parents think their children are doing online and what kids report they are doing online. More teens report always doing a variety of activities while online than parents of teens think they are, including: surfing or browsing the Internet (26% versus 16% of parents), emailing (29% versus 21% of parents) and instant messaging (58% versus 49% of parents).

Other activities teens report doing at least sometimes while online include doing school work (80%), playing games (77%) and using chat rooms (27%). In addition, one-in-five teens say they have their own website.

In addition, more teens have been exposed to 'risky' situations online than parents believe. For example, 16% of teens report they have been in a chat room while someone was being bullied (versus 9% of parents who think their teen has encountered this situation). One-third (34%) of teens say they have been asked for personal information such as their last name, address or phone number from someone online (versus 25% of parents who think their teen has encountered this situation). Further, while only 7% of parents of teens believe their child has shared personal information with someone online, more than double this proportion (16%) of teens report having done so.

Many teens have also encountered other 'risky' online situations. More than one-half (52%) report having seen inappropriate content such as pornography, violent or hateful messages while online. Four-in-five teens (79%) report receiving junk email spam and seeing online ads for gambling. In addition, one-in-five (20%) report having been a victim of "phishing". Perhaps one of the most disturbing findings of the study is that 10% of teens admit to having inappropriate communication with an adult while online.

However, despite the situations they may encounter online, just over one-half (54%) of teens say they are concerned about the people and situations they can come across while using the Internet.

Overall, parents report that their child spends an average of 6.5 hours online per week. Parents of teens report their child spends significantly more time online per week than parents of younger children (12.5 hours for parents of children aged 12 to 17; 3.7 hours for parents of children aged 5 to 11). In general, this is consistent with what parents think is appropriate, with parents indicating that an average of 6.2 hours per week is an appropriate amount of time for their children to be online.

When asked where the computers with Internet access are located in the home, only 9% of parents indicated their child's bedroom (14% of parents of teens and 6% of parents of younger children). However, more teens say they have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom than parents of teens report (22% versus 14%). The survey reveals that most computers in the home are located in common/family areas such as the family/rec room (50%) and the home office (32%).

Three-quarters (72%) of parents say they try to limit the amount of time their child spends online. However, parents of teens are much less likely to say they try to limit the amount of time their child spends online than are parents of children aged 5 to 11 (57% versus 78%).

* Teen girls are more likely than their male counterparts to say their parents try to limit the amount of time they spend online (63% versus 53%).

Nearly three-quarters of parents (72%) believe they are familiar with the various resources and safeguards for protecting children online. Further, when asked to rate the resources they have available to protect their children online, 80% of parents say the resources are adequate.

The most common form of online supervision parents report providing their child is periodically checking in on him or her while they use the Internet at home (66% for parents of 5 to 11 year olds and 55% for parents of 12 to 17 year olds). Among parents of younger children, 27% report that an adult sits beside the child while they use the Internet at home (3% for parents of teens). Among parents of teens, 39% report their child is generally left alone while they use the Internet at home (5% for parents of 5 to 11 year olds).

* Teen males are significantly more likely to say they are left alone while they use the Internet at home than their female counterparts (50% versus 37%).

When asked how often they know what sites and programs their child uses while online, seven-in-ten parents reported they know what sites and programs their child is using online at all times. However, parents of younger children are much more likely than parents of older children to believe this (86% versus 34%). When teens were asked this question, the same proportion (33%) reported their parents know what sites and programs they use online at all times.

* Teens whose parents try to limit the amount of time they spend online are more likely than those without time limits to report that their parents know what sites and programs they are using online at all times (39% versus 24%).

More than three-quarters of parents (78%) say they have talked to their child about things to watch out for when online. The survey also reveals that parents of younger children are less likely to say they have talked to their child about things to watch out for when online than are parents of older children (71% versus 93%).

However, nearly three-in-ten (27%) say their child is more knowledgeable about what to watch out for online than themselves (48% say their child is less knowledgeable). Parents of teens are more likely than parents of younger children to say their child is more knowledgeable than themselves (50% versus 16%).

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of parents believe they are knowledgeable about the difference between instant messaging and online chat rooms. While two-thirds (65%) of parents feel comfortable with their child using instant messaging, only 16% are comfortable with their child using online chat rooms. Parents of teens are much more likely than parents of younger children to say they are comfortable with their child using these forms of communication.

Content advisors or parental control software is found on the home computers of 43% of Canadian parents. According to the survey, the top ranked resources parents turn to are: MSN Online Safety and Security, SafeKids.com, NetSafeKids.org and BeWebAware.ca. However, nearly two-thirds of parents (64%) and teens (65%) report not having visited any of the online safety websites probed in the questionnaire.

These are the findings of an online Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Microsoft Canada from December 15th to December 20th, 2005. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of parents and teens. The parent poll is based on 676 adult Canadian parents of children aged 5 to 17 who have access to the Internet in the home. With a sample of this size, the parent results are considered accurate to within ±3.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adult Canadian parents of children aged 5 to 17 with access to the Internet in the home been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. The teen poll is based on 534 Canadian children aged 12 to 17 with access to the Internet in the home. With a sample of this size, the teen results are considered accurate to within ±4.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of Canadians aged 12 to 17 with access to the Internet in the home been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. The margin of error for both polls will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey populations.

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For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
President
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(416) 324-2900

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