first_imgNZ Herald 26 Nov 2012Do it early and without fear – that’s the advice an internet safety expert has for parents worried about how and when they should address concerns about their children’s online activity. Stephen Balkam, founding chief executive of the US-based Family Online Safety Institute, is visiting the country as a speaker at a conference hosted by NetSafe and opening in Wellington today. His seminar tomorrow covers a range of issues facing society’s growing use of the internet, from the advent of “digital citizenship” to problems including cyber-bullying, addiction and sexting. Mr Balkam told the Herald his talk would also look at startling findings released by his organisation this month. The study found large differences between what parents know about their teens’ social networking use on sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, and the level of monitoring their children knew of. It found 70 per cent of parents checked their teens’ text messages on their phones but 70 per cent of teens were unaware of it, and while about 84 per cent of parents said they monitored online useage, just 39 per cent of teens were aware they were being spied on. Just 14 per cent of teens thought their parents were well informed about what they were doing on Twitter and while 95 per cent of teens reported feeling safe online, 94 per cent of parents disagreed with them. Parents saw stranger danger as their top worry.

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