A good parent-child relationship helps protect against cyber threats

One in 10 children has already encountered an adult pretending to be a child
Celebrate Safer Internet Day on 9 February

Telenor has commissioned Ipsos research institute to conduct a survey on how much Hungarian parents are familiar with the Internet usage habits of their children and the most common cyber threats [1]. Survey results show that practically every parent talks about studying and school events with their child, while only two in three consider it important to discuss the issues of cyberbullying and the things to know about using social media with them. Telenor has prepared a TudatosNet educational video series of 14 episodes for Safer Inter Day.

One in four children has already been disappointed or upset by an online experience. The reason has been usually an offensive remark or comment meant for them or somebody else, but in one in three cases the negative experience was caused by inappropriate content. Few likes or less-than-expected followers were also mentioned as reasons. In spite of that, parents talk about cyberbullying and online conduct less with their children than about everyday school matters. These were some of the findings of a recent survey conducted in Hungary for Safer Internet Day. The older a child is, the less insight parents have into their online activities despite the fact the cyberbullying affects teenagers in the first place. Young people are heavy users of social media. 64% of participants’ children have registered on Facebook, but Instagram (43%) and TikTok (39%) are also increasingly popular. The likelihood of online media presence increases with age. Nearly every child attending grades 9 to 13 in the sample have a Facebook profile (96%).

Fake news, adult content – more focus needed on cyber threats

Based on parents’ experience, 57% of schoolchildren have already come across fake news and more than one third (36%) saw adult content on the internet (the latter ratio  is 61% for children above grade 9). As for fake news, 89% of parents learnt about the experience directly from their child. In most cases where there is regular parent-child communication in the family about the Internet, children mentioned seeing unwanted adult content to their parents. The good news is that when parents learnt about such an experience, most of them were able to discuss and resolve this issue with their child.

Although 89% of parents believe that they know what data their child shares on the Internet, only 56% have an insight into their online activities. Children tend to share photos about themselves and their hobbies on social media, and they don’t usually give information about their place of residence which is good news. Based on the responses, 39% of children have already communicated with strangers on the Internet. This ratio is much higher (60%) for children above grade 9. This is just natural if they make comments on posts or play online games, but it is a warning sign that one in ten children have already met an adult pretending to be a child in the online space.

“The pandemic has increased the popularity of online games and communication platforms. Using them, children can easily engage with people they haven’t met in the physical world before. In such cases, it is especially important for both parents and children to be well-informed and develop a critical approach to managing online relationships. This is one of the subjects covered by our recently published TudatosNet video series. It includes easy-to-understand 2-minute animations of daily situations and practical advice. We’ve seen a favourable trend in recent years with parents increasingly likely to initiate discussions about the Internet with their children. We want to reinforce and accelerate this trend with the TudatosNet videos made available on HiperSuli’s YouTube channel for this year’s Safer Internet Day”, said Balázs Koren, head of Telenor’s HiperSuli program.

Discussions help identify problems

Cyberbullying is still an issue for young people, but most of those affected are reluctant to talk about it. While only 14% of parents are aware of their children having been bullied online, 24% of them know of other young people who fell victim to cyberbullying. One in ten children admitted having written negative or offensive messages to others. The TudatosNet episode titled Cyberbullying shows that even bullies don’t always realize the weight of their actions which makes accountability, as well as the deletion and reporting of offensive content and posts the more important. Similarly to other online threats, having honest and open discussions with children about their experience and potential solutions can help raise awareness and address such issues effectively.

Please click here for the 14 episodes of the TudatosNet video series.

Completing the TudatosNet online quiz allows both parents and children to assess their preparedness about responsible Internet use.

More information on Safer Internet Day: https://www.saferinternetday.org/