Kids increasingly online — and on their own

Experts warn of lurking dangers after study shows one in five parents never monitor what their children are doing online

With schools closed over the summer, young children and teenagers will spend most of their time on their devices – increasing their average online activity to eight hours per day.

Dubai: With schools closed over the summer, young children and teenagers in the UAE spend most of their time on their devices — their average online activity up to almost eight hours a day, a study by McAfee showed.

Common electronic devices may include gaming devices, smartphones, laptops, desktops, and virtual assistants, amongst others.

According to a study commissioned by McAfee, one in five parents (18 per cent) never monitor what their children are doing online.

Around 86 per cent of parents allow their children to play online games recommended for older children. This increase in screen time during the summer brings the average number of hours of a child using a device to 56 hours a week.

Deepak Bhatia, co-founder, iLIFE Digital Technology.“We are increasingly seeing news reports on how kids and teens are vulnerable in the online world,” said Deepak Bhatia, co-founder, iLIFE Digital Technology.

She advised parents to start conversations with their children early and discuss how hackers steal and misuse data using infected links and phishing emails. They should share stories about fake social profiles, and discuss what hackers can do with the data they get their hands on.

Jesus Sanchez-Aguilera, Head of EMEA Consumer also emphasized that protecting every personal computer, Tablet and mobile you own is absolutely essential today.

“It is not possible to stop a child/teen of this digital age from using his/her device but we could adopt a more proactive approach in protecting them and managing their online activity,” he said.

Cybercriminals can use the popularity of video games to entice gamers to click on potentially malicious links. Parents must remind their children not to open email attachments or video/ message links, and try to limit or have anonymous profiles when playing online. They should also “share with care,” as routinely scrolling, liking, and commenting on social sites such as Snapchat and Instagram can give kids a false sense of security and power.


‘Must-do’ cyber safety tips for kids:

1) Keep location services off when not needed
2) Do not click on websites if they don’t start with ‘https’
3) Be wary of duplicate or fake friend requests on social media.
4) Unplug and control how much time children spend on their device. Make time for tech-free family activities this summer.
5) Always protect and upgrade the software security. 

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