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Internet activity report reveals extent of affect the technology has on families.

Symantec : 13 February, 2008  (Technical Article)
Whilst the majority of parents worry about what their children do on-line, as many as 25% have no idea about these activities despite high occurrences of dating and friendship.
Symantec, the makers of Norton security software, has released the first volume of the Norton
Online Living Report (NOLR) revealing that, more than ever, adults and children around the world are getting emotionally and socially connected online - including dating, friendship and playing - as well as for information and communication. The NOLR, undertaken by Harris Interactive, revealed some startling statistics about how Internet-Age technologies have affected families across the world.

Up to half of online adults worldwide and up to 40 per cent of online children worldwide have made friends on line, with 72 per cent of responding UK adults having translated at least one online friend to an offline friend. In the UK, 43 per cent of online adults and 26 per cent of children enjoy their online relationships as much or more than their offline friendships. This indicates a major shift in how people relate to one other and provides potential clues for the future of human interaction.

Another common theme worldwide reveals that parents' perception of what their children are doing online does not reflect the reality of what their children say they are doing. For example, one in five responding children admit to conducting activities online that they know their parents would not approve of with 24 per cent of UK online children spending tenfold or more time online than their parents think they do. The survey revealed that 72 per cent of responding parents in the UK are concerned about their children's activities online, with 25 per cent having no idea about what their children are doing on the internet.

This can have shocking consequences: Five times as many children online in the UK have been approached by a stranger online than their parents believe. In UK, adults believe that four per cent of children have been approached online by a stranger. The actual per cent reported by UK online children is 20.

Online parents are recognising the social and informative benefits of the Internet both for themselves and their children yet few are setting parameters and implementing controls to ensure children remain safe on line. Worldwide, half or less of online parents, or 37 per cent in the
UK, have set parental controls on their family computers. Around seven in 10 UK online parents are concerned about their children being approached with inappropriate content or solicitations but only four in 10 have spoken to their child on safe Internet practices, despite the UK having the highest number of children (87 per cent) claiming to be comfortable talking to their parents about their on line experiences.

Commenting on the research, Chris Kelly, Chief Privacy Officer from Facebook said: 'Facebook recognizes the importance of helping parents to understand the online world that our children are growing up in and to provide practical advice on how people can replicate their offline controls, online. Our technology has been designed to replicate real-world connections online, with the ability to select personal privacy settings and provide complete user control.'

Caroline Cockerill, Norton Online Safety Advocate for Symantec, said: 'The Norton Online Living Report highlights how the boundaries have blurred between the online and offline worlds and the effect this is having on our families and as individuals.'

'As parents, we need to balance our concerns about child safety online while allowing children the freedom to explore without fear of what they may find. In order to make our children's time online as safe as possible, there are a number of recommendations to follow. Installing and constantly updating Internet security software is a key factor in helping to shield our families from a variety of unwanted materials, but the protection does not stop there. Now more than ever it is important that parents fully understand the rich online world that children have access to, and are aware of the social as well as technological measures that need to be undertaken to ensure that they are protected. This begins with an awareness of the Web sites that our children now use on a daily basis, and an open and frank discussion about the online risks which children may face.'

The Norton Online Living Report is the world's most comprehensive report on the digital lifestyle habits of adults and children, cataloguing the astonishing migration of offline activities to the online world. The report examines data from eight countries including UK, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan and the US, to reveal surprising cross-cultural differences, and similarities, when it comes to interacting with technology. Symantec commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the survey to better comprehend how consumers interact with technology on a daily basis in order to understand the mindset of consumers worldwide. This detailed data will allow Symantec to hone its products, deliver targeted and streamlined services and to anticipate online threats and trends.
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