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One-third of American Children under 12 Admit to ‘Bad’ Online Experiences in Lockdown but 9 in 10 Lack the Confidence to Tell Parents
New research from Avast shows many parents in the dark about kids’ negative online experiences, from unsolicited inappropriate content to unwanted contact from strangers

Redwood City, Calif. — October 7, 2020 — Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy products, today reveals that nearly one third of children under the age of 12 in the US (32%) have admitted to having bad online experiences during lockdown.

Of this group, 78% of children said they had received unkind messages; 73% had received unsolicited and inappropriate content; and 76% had received unwanted contact from a stranger. Another 71% had accidentally downloaded a computer virus and 76% had received an unkind video call.

Despite the fact that 47% of parents say they are now having more open conversations about online safety, almost nine out of ten children (89%) said they didn’t have the confidence to tell their parents. Among the reasons children gave for not seeking help were: they felt scared (13%), embarrassed (11%), or didn’t want a friend to get into trouble (8%). A further 11% said they didn’t want to lose access to their smartphone, tablet or laptop as a consequence, while the same number (11%) didn’t recognize the incident or content as harmful.

Nick Viney, SVP & GM, Avast Partner BU said, “Encouraging children to be digitally adept from a young age is critical, and that includes learning safe online behaviors. With a few simple strategies in place, we believe parents can encourage a positive online experience for their children in a safe and secure way.

“Parents should maintain an open conversation with their children and check in on their digital activities as they would ask about a day at school, and engage with them to understand the activities they regularly enjoy online like content, games and social networks. Balance parental concern with teaching proper online habits, smart choices, and continued family communication.”

In order to encourage conversations with children about the experiences they’re having online, Avast suggests three top tips:

  • Be calm and approachable: Children will only communicate issues up to where they feel the rules apply. If they feel you will get angry, they will be less likely to tell you.
  • Get up to speed with their online world: You have to educate yourself on what’s going on in the 2020s. Know which apps children are using, which social media they like, and what interests them online.
  • Prepare for the journey: Much like a train journey, children are on a fast moving “internet express”, and parents need to be prepared to discuss all the stops along the way as their children’s internet usage evolves.

Avast Family Space is currently on offer to download for free from the Apple App Store and/or the Google Play Store. It is a two-part app: Avast Family Space for Parents runs on the administrator device, and Avast Family Space for Kids can be installed on up to ten monitored devices.

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Findings represent insights shared by 2,000 respondents Avast surveyed throughout the US during June 2020.

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