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Safer Internet Day

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Today is, I understand, Safer Internet Day.

I have to admit to being very confused about all of this. Yes, we as parents and adults, need to protect innocent children. But I can’t help thinking we sometimes take this too far. Today, Kaspersky Labs has released data compiled by a YouGov survey. The provided headlines include:

As many as 43% of people have online ‘friends’ that they have never met…

I believe that most adults (and this particular statistic talks about ‘people’, not ‘children’) use social networking at least as much for business networking as for personal networking. Consider LinkedIn. I have hundreds of ‘contacts’ (the equivalent of Facebook’s ‘friends’) whom I value exceedingly, but whom I have never actually met in real life. So I am absolutely amazed that as few as “43% of people have online ‘friends’ that they have never met” – I would have expected the figure to be well above 90%.

Around half (49 per cent) of parents with children under 18 who have internet-enabled mobile devices don’t monitor their children’s mobile web habits

Well, from the age of 12 to 18 at least every second thought I had was of a sexual nature. In those days it was called ‘growing up’. And from the age of 14 onwards (and probably a bit earlier) there would have been hell to pay if I had suspected that my parents were ‘spying’ on me. Let’s face it, you can get married without parental consent, on your sixteenth birthday in Scotland. So we have this strange anomaly, where for commercial reasons the industry, and for political reasons the government, have to hype up the dangers of the internet; who then say ‘we can solve the problem for you, by selling you restrictive software (industry) and limiting your freedoms (government).’ But in doing so, they remove responsibility from parents, who then don’t bother teaching their children; and they remove liberty from all of us until we accept the Nanny State.

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Malcom Tuck, managing director of Kaspersky Lab UK

Surely the solution has to be in talking and explaining and educating; and not in monitoring and spying and distrust. In fairness, Kaspersky is aware of the dangers:

…With young people generally regarding their mobile phone as personal and private, for the 51 per cent of parents who do supervise their children’s mobile phone habits, there is the risk of such behaviour being seen as upsetting and invasive by their children.

“We also believe that technology alone is not the answer, which is why our dedicated website http://www.kaspersky.co.uk/safer contains advice and guidance for parents, guardians and children. Protecting young people online means talking to them about the dangers and giving them the confidence and control they need to surf safely,” said Malcolm Tuck, managing director of Kaspersky Lab UK.

I would say absolutely that the function of the security industry (where children are concerned) is to educate both children and parents. It must never be to take the place of parental responsibility.

Kaspersky

  1. February 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Nice article Kevin, I agree 100% with your statements.

    Cheers,
    Luis

    Like

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