Being protective is a parental instinct, but the online landscape is changing the rules. New research by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International reveals that 30% of parents feel they have no control over what their children see or do online, with 38% concerned that their children’s Internet-dependency is becoming an addiction.
Added to this, many adults worry that their own, digitally-active parents and grandparents could be equally vulnerable.
Over half (52%) of respondents believe that the threats their children face online are increasing. The top concern is the risk of kids encountering inappropriate or explicit content (45%), with nearly two-thirds (60%) convinced that kids have unrestricted access to such content.
Other worries include the likelihood of kids coming across and communicating with dangerous strangers (41%) and sharing too much personal information about themselves (40%). 38% are afraid that kids can become addicted to the Internet and spend too much time online.
The risk of kids encountering, and probably failing to recognize, malware is a major concern for 37% of parents. What is more surprising and worrying is that cyber-bullying, which can have such a devastating and long-term impact on young people’s lives, is listed as a serious concern by just 35% of parents.
Alongside these direct threats to children, parents also worry that other members of the family could be affected by kids’ unguarded behavior online, for example through the accidental deletion or loss of data (27%), or by incurring unexpected costs (25%) through in-app purchases in online games and more.
Adding to the burden of adult concern is the fact 52% have parents who use the Internet, and more than half of adults – 29% overall – worry about the risks their parents might encounter and be unable to deal with.
Respondents with digitally-active grandparents (19% of those surveyed) regard them as even more vulnerable, with two-thirds – 13% of respondents overall – worried about what these older relatives might come across.
Top concerns for more mature Internet users include the risk of encountering malware (52%) or fake websites and emails (50%); losing money through fraud and criminal activity (45%); being hit by scams (38%); or even being spied on (37%).
In line with the list of top fears for kids online, coming across dangerous strangers (25%) and explicit content (20%) also rank high on the list of dangers facing older people.
“Our survey reveals that many parents fear that the number of threats facing their kids online is increasing, with so much unregulated content available. Worryingly, the study shows that every fifth parent takes no action to keep kids safe and more than half (58%) do not even talk with them about online threats,” said David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
“With a significant number of adults also worrying about the threats facing inexperienced older relatives online, particularly in the form of scams and malware, it is important that these parents under pressure have the software and support they need to keep their loved ones secure,” he added.
Kaspersky Lab urges parents to take an approach that combines a comprehensive security solution with education and communication.
A family-focused software solution is the ultimate safety net, protecting kids effectively when parents are not around or from threats adults may not yet be aware of; but it is equally important that children – and older relatives – understand how to protect themselves.
This requires knowing what to look out for, how to block unwanted approaches and how to avoid distressing content. Most of all, Kaspersky Lab advises parents (and older kids) to combine software and education with an open dialogue about online risk and behavior.
Kaspersky Lab’s two consumer solutions, Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device and Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device include special Parental Control modules to help adults protect vulnerable people from online threats, block sites and apps with inappropriate content and limit the information they can share.
In addition to that, a special Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search online across all devices, and to show them what is dangerous or inappropriate online without risk.