Ok, you’ve been hearing this advice for years: monitor your children’s activities on the Internet, talk to them about the possible dangers, install web monitoring programs, and so on. And, of course, you secure your own online activities too, right?
So you think you’re covered? Maybe not.
A survey just published by Consumer Reports reveals some pretty shocking results. I found these findings to be the most worrisome: ‘Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million-or more than one-third-were younger than 13 and not supposed to be able to use the site.’ And, ‘…more than 5 million were 10 and under, and their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents.’
Those numbers are extremely scary when you think of the possible consequences. Are these children posting pictures of themselves? Are they publicly revealing any personal information about themselves, their families, their whereabouts? Who are they friending? Who are the friends of their friends? And what about your own use of social media and online devices: are you neglecting your own security?
Here are some other troubling findings:
- More than 5 million online U.S. households experienced some type of abuse on Facebook in the past year, including virus infections, identity theft, and for a million children, bullying.
- One-third of households surveyed had experienced a malicious software infection the previous year. The estimated cost of malware to consumers was $2.3 billion last year, causing the replacement of 1.3 million PCs.
- Almost 30 % of survey respondents said they use their mobile phones to access and store bank information, medical records and other sensitive data, but without taking precautions to secure their phones.
- Many active Facebook users take risks that can lead to burglaries, identity theft, and stalking. Fifteen percent had posted their current location or travel plans, 34 percent their full birth date, and 21 percent of those with children at home had posted those children’s names and photos. Moreover, roughly one in five hadn’t used Facebook’s privacy controls, making them more vulnerable to threats.
- Twenty-three percent of active Facebook users didn’t know some of their ‘friends’ well enough to feel completely comfortable about their own or their family’s security or safety. An additional 6 percent admitted to having a friend who made them uneasy about those things. That means almost one in three Facebook users aren’t fully comfortable with all their friends.
Read the remainder of the survey results, and prepare to do a serious security audit of your home computer, mobile phones and any other online devices that you and especially your kids have access to.