Does Cyber-Crime Bother Kids?

More Than We Realize, a New Study Finds


Cyber_CrimeCrime in cyberspace – whether it’s online bullying, invasion of privacy, identity theft or some other personal violation – is as emotionally devastating to kids as other crimes would be, a new study finds.

June is Internet Safety Month and this week, the anti-virus software company Norton is releasing the results of a study exploring the emotional toll of cyber-crime on kids. The Norton Online Family Report surveyed 2,800 kids and more than 7,000 adults in 14 countries about their online lives and experiences. Researchers found that six in 10 kids have had negative online experiences – from exposure to nudity to having a stranger online try to meet them in real life.

The children surveyed say they’ve felt angry, upset and fearful about negative online experiences. More than half blame themselves, at least in part, for the incidents. Fortunately, nearly seven in 10 say they’d tell their parents if something bad happened to them online.

Reality Check

The report’s data on kids’ actual online experiences compared with parents’ assumptions yields some surprising results. Among them:

• While previous Norton studies have revealed that kids were spending much more time online than their parents thought, the latest report shows kids and parents “fully in sync” about the amount of time kids spend online.

• Still, nearly half of the kids surveyed believe they’re more careful online than their parents. And 20 percent say their parents have “no idea” what the kids are doing online.

• Only 45 percent of parents are aware that their kids are having negative experiences online. The study found parents underestimating how much kids are exposed to inappropriate content or requests for personal information online.

• Kids are most likely to feel angry (39 percent), upset (36 percent), afraid (34 percent) and worried (34 percent) when encountering a negative experience online. A fifth of kids surveyed say they regret something they’ve done online.

The good news from this report is that nearly nine in 10 kids say they follow family rules for Internet use. Most also say they don’t bully, harass or stalk others online. Nearly six in 10 say they don’t pass on embarrassing photos or post about others online, and more than half say they wouldn’t say anything online that they wouldn’t do or say off-line.

Tips for Parents

Among the tips Norton offers to parents, based on the results of this new report:

• Prepare your kids for good or bad experiences online – don’t wait until after something happens.

• Emphasize the importance of thinking before clicking and downloading.

• Reassure kids that what happens to them online is a shared responsibility and that they shouldn’t take all the responsibility for what happens in the cyber world.


This NAPPA Award-winning security software helps parents feel safer and allows children to use the best content that the Internet has to offer for their age. The software is free-of-charge, and easy to install and set up on your home computer. 

– Deirdre Wilson

Posted June 2010