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Sunday, 3 July 2011

cyber crimes and children

Children are a lot smarter than we always give them credit for. This is especially true when it comes to technological issues. Few could argue that they know more about the Internet, computers or cell phones, than their children do. Changing times have called for an increased awareness in how your kids’ extensive knowledge of the Internet may not be a good thing. Children are faced with a number of different challenges as they age. As kids get older these challenges, evolve into bigger issues or more complex problems. Add to that mix the hormones of adolescence and the drama of being given responsibilities of and the knowledge needed to become an effective adult and you have the formula that most parents have a hard time figuring out.

But no matter how daunting the task is, it is the responsibility of parents to make themselves aware of the challenges and dangers that lay ahead of their children. It is the responsibility of the parents to protect, teach and then hope that children have the right tools necessary to keep themselves safe in an ever changing world. This is why the research findings of the Rochester Institute of Technology are so valuable. These findings on children and cyber crimes bring to light issues that a parent may not be aware of and can hopefully provide the motivation that parents need to get more involved in keeping their kids safe when they are online.

In summary the results of the study showed that much of the cyber crimes that are being committed against children are the responsibility of other child peers in fact, that are approximately the same age and in the same grade level. Also found in the study is an interesting relationship between age and the evolution of more serious cybercrimes. The study followed children as young as kindergarten age through their school years all the way to the last year of high school.

It was reported that the youngest children were the ones who had the most parental supervision when they were online, but at best only half of these kids were being monitored by their parents during times of Internet usage. By the time a child reached high school that supervision had virtually disappeared. Additionally, as a child grew their exposure to content that made them feel uncomfortable also grew. Boldness in talking to, sharing personal information with and even volunteering to meet personally with strangers also grew. This increase in trust or reckless behavior (depending on how you see it) was a key contributor in the amount of cyber crimes that were committed by and directed to the kids who participated in the study.

As the age of the children in the study became older, it is assumed that so too did the frequency of their exposure to objectionable content such as (but not limited to) pornography. While almost 40% of second and third graders had stated that they had been exposed to content that they felt uncomfortable with, no statistic is mentioned for older children. However, evidence to support the fact that they are most likely still being subjected to objectionable content can be found in the fact that 23% high school aged kids have been exposed specifically to unwanted pornography and 23% have been asked about sexual things online.

It was also found that crimes committed by children also grew as the child aged with 21% of high school aged kids admitting to using a device to cheat on a school assignment within the last school year. Even parents who try to fight against their child’s ability to access content that they should not access have been outsmarted, with twelve percent students in high school reported they were able to find their way around filtering devices that were designed to keep them away from certain content.

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