Over 70% of metropolitan Indian kids use FB illegally, with parents help - The New Indian Express

Over 70% of metropolitan Indian kids use FB illegally, with parents help

Published: 27th November 2013 04:44 PM

Last Updated: 27th November 2013 04:48 PM

Here's a shocker: Over 70% of 8-12 year old kids in Indian metros are on Facebook, despite the site not allowing users below 13 to have profiles. And if you thought that this 'illegal' Facebook usage is going to be a revelation for their folks, guess again. According to McAfee's Tweens and Technology Research Study 2013, 89% of parents gave their kids permission and also befriended them on the social networking site. "It's a very common phenomenon. There are parents who keep proudly calling their kids 'computer geeks and geniuses' who know how to use technology, but very few of them actually know what their kids are up to online," said Anindita Mishra, part of the McAfee Cybermum programme.

The study was conducted among 1000 tweens (8-12 years of age) across Indian cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore, by the internet security provider. Though kids, still in primary school, cannot precisely define what the 'internet' is, most of them are quite at home with their Facebook, Twitter and Skype profiles. One of the major reasons why kids want to be online is because of habits they pick up from their parents - in fact, 70% of kids said that they used the phone at dinner or got a FB profile only because they saw their parents using it incessantly, "It is because kids are impressionabe at that age.

Every day I encounter kids who are devastated because of something they saw, downloaded or did online in schools in Chennai," said Jayanthini P, noted child psychiatrist. Despite most schools having blanket bans on the usage of mobile phones, laptops and tablets by students, almost 68% of these young kids admitted to using Facebook on their mobiles, especially when their parents weren't around to monitor them. "Most often parents tend to place limits on how much time they spend online and even go as far as to remove online devices from their bedrooms at night. The problem is that 49% of them said that they were frustrated by these rules and usually turn to mobiles when at school to just defeat those rules," said Melanie Duca, who has been operating these studies for McAfee globally.

So why is this boom in kids using the internet and social media dangerous?

Not only are Indian kids quite happy putting personaly photos online, they also put up updates about family plans, when they're out and any time there's a fight, "When coupled with information like their address, mobile phone number and photos of their home, this sort of information is dangerous on several counts," added Melanie. The biggest risk for Indian kids on Facebook is their eagerness to meet and chat with people they didn't know.

Scarily, 36% on Indian tweens admitted to befriending and talking to complete strangers online while 1 in 3 teens actually admitted to going and meeting strangers they had met online, "This is risky. This is where kids need to be taught to handle themselves with a certain maturity and be wary of strangers," said Melanie.

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