Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM ET
A new report on kids' online habits reveals a "growing phenomenon" of "cyberbaiting," in which kids taunt teachers to yelling or breakdowns and then record their reactions using cellphone camcorders.
Interviews with 2,379 teachers of students aged 8-17 for the Norton Online Family Report showed that one in five of them (21 percent) surveyed had experienced "cyberbaiting," and dealt with the fallout of "further shame or trouble" afterward.
Perhaps some of this interaction comes from 34 percent of teachers who are "friends" with their students on social networks. But teachers are aware of the inherent potential for line crossing, with 67 percent of them who say those friendships exposes them to risks. Schools aren't helping them as much as teachers want, with only 51 percent of surveyed teachers saying their employers have a code of conduct on how teachers and students should interact on social networks.
But the teachers aren't the only ones who are experiencing repercussions of online activity. Overall, almost 62 percent of children around the world who answered the surveys said they had a negative experience while online. And nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) have had a serious negative experience, "such as receiving inappropriate pictures from strangers, being bullied or becoming the victim of cybercrime." Kids who are active on social networks seem to be more susceptible to negative online experiences: 74 percent, vs. 38 percent who did not engage on those networks.
Over one in 10 kids admitted to visiting porn and other "adult content" sites out of their parents' sight.
Solid supervision and discipline seem to go a long way toward keeping kids safe online, Norton found. In households where parents have rules (77 percent) that are followed by their children, 52 percent of their kids had negative online experiences. That may still seem high, but among those who broke the rules, 82 percent had negative online experiences.
Of course, the more time kids spent online, the more likely they were to encounter something negative. The report found that 88 percent of kids who spent more than 49 hours a week online had such an experience, compared to 60 percent who spent less than 25 hours a week online.
Parents surveyed thought about 17 percent of kids were shopping online, when it turned out the number was nearly twice as many (33 percent). The report also found a high number of kids shopping with their parents' credit cards, with their parent's blessing most of the time, but nearly a third of parents (30 percent) said their kids had caught their kids using them without permission. But, for the most part, parents know what they're buying: music, video games, concert/movie tickets and movies.
The report includes the results of surveys filled out by nearly 20,000 people online in February and March, including 12,704 adults and 4,553 children aged 8-17.
The survey was conducted in 24 countries (14 tracking countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan,New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States; 10 new countries: Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Singapore, Poland, Switzerland and UAE).